3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Not Without Us:
Fostering Spaces of Belonging in Museums

Lucy Bell, Sdahl K'awaas, PhD candidate, Haida Nation-based researcher, Simon Fraser University and the Haida Repatriation Committee

Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, Coordinator, South Asian Studies Institute, University of the Fraser Valley; Co-Curator, Sikh Heritage Museum, National Historic Site Gur Sikh Temple

About the Session

This talk will explore the historical antecedents of why museums across Canada continue to be spaces of not-belonging for Indigenous, Black and People of Colour. Following historical explanations, the presentation will look at some incredible successes, including Haida repatriation in the past twenty years as an act of true (as opposed to performative) reconciliation and through the decolonized work in the Sikh Heritage Museum, National Historic Site and Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford, BC.

Session_Not Without Us 1

Image courtesy of Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra.

Session_Not Without Us 2

Image courtesy of  Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra

Engaging with all principles of Reconciliation, Inclusion, Community, and Innovation, the presenters will offer tools that can be fostered in museums to decentre their innate whiteness. Museums must engage with all four principles to move towards urgently needed change, and consciously honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, and the Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples. The work of the presenters, Lucy Bell and Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, will demonstrate the power of interracial solidarity as an exercise towards changing museum systems of power.


Questions to Consider

  • What are some of the tangible solutions or steps to take to change the ways in which our museums forge a space of not-belonging for so many people?
  • Who are the partners we can engage with, and how can we engage with them to change the systemic racism in our institutions?
  • Where do you see meaningful change in museums actually taking place?


About the Speakers


Lucy Bell, Sdahl K'awaas
she / her

Lucy Bell is a passionate Indigenous museologist. With her at the helm, the Haida have repatriated over 500 ancestral remains from global museums and curated many exhibits. Lucy received a BC Community Achievement Award for her work in repatriation. She was the inaugural Head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department at the Royal BC Museum. In her farewell speech, she graciously called out the museum for racism, launching an investigation and internal work to address the problem. Lucy is passionate about learning. She is a distinguished UVic Alumna. She is currently an SFU PhD Candidate focussing on Haida museology.



Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra
she / her

Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra is the Coordinator at the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), co-curator of exhibits at the Sikh Heritage Museum, located in the National Historic Site Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford, BC, and a sessional faculty in the Department of History at UFV. She is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia and is interested in looking at the affective experiences of museum visitors through a critical race theory lens. Sharn is a passionate activist, building bridges between community and academia through museum work. She is a past member of the BC Museums Association Board of Directors, and currently a Director with the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre - Museum of Migration.





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