OTTAWA – After passing second reading, Bill C-391 The Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act will now go to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) for study, a step forward that is gratifying to Bill Casey, Member of Parliament for Cumberland Colchester, who brought forward the private member’s bill. Bill C-391 passed with a unanimous vote in the House of Commons on June 6th.
“From talking with many Indigenous stakeholders, I know that his strategy that would obtain artifacts being held in foreign museums and bring them back to Canada is long overdue,” said Casey after the vote in the House of Commons. “For many Indigenous communities, the ceremonial artifacts that were removed by explorers over the centuries are a keenly missed part of their cultural heritage and identity.”
Casey conceived the private member’s bill after a visit to the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre where he saw a reproduction of a Mi’kmaq ceremonial robe. He learned that the original robe is in a museum on the other side of the world in Australia, something that just didn’t sit well with him.
Mi’kmaq people shouldn’t have to look at a reproduction of one of their ceremonial robes because someone took the real thing to Australia and then donated it to a museum there. It belongs here and there needed to be a strategy in place that the federal government follow to assist all Indigenous Peoples bring back their artifacts.”
"This is the right time for this type of strategy. "Bill CaseyMember of Parliament for Cumberland Colchester
Now that C-391 has been referred to INAN for study, Casey is hopeful that the committee will begin work on it as soon as possible. Once the committee completes its study and tables its report in the House of Commons, the proposed legislation will be slated for third reading, debate and a vote. Should C-391 pass third vote, it then is passed along to the Senate of Canada for more study and input.
“It’s a lengthy process, but it is worthwhile if we can get it passed into law and continue to carry on with the repatriation of indigenous cultural artifacts as part of our reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples,” added Casey.