MP Bill Casey Introduces Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act
Bill Casey, Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester, was pleased to introduce the Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act in the House of Commons today. Bill C-391 was seconded by MPs Larry Bagnell, Dan Vandal, Michael McLeod and Vance Badawey.
“The idea came from the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre,” said Casey. “I visited and saw a photo of regalia made in the 1840s for a Mi’kmaq Chief, and the guide told me the real thing is in a museum in Australia.”
Indeed, the intricate ceremonial garment had been kept far from home in a Melbourne museum for the past 126 years. After hearing about the significant challenges faced by the Centre in trying to borrow or buy it back, Casey decided to spearhead the creation of a national strategy for the repatriation of Indigenous cultural property.
Dr. Donald M. Julien, Executive Director of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, supports the initiative. “Repatriating Indigenous cultural property can have immeasurable positive psychological, educational and economic benefits for Indigenous communities. We see a need for a national strategy that is sensitive to the differences among communities and cultures but that ultimately brings this issue to the forefront for all Canadians.”
"This is the right thing to do and the time to do it is now. I hope that my parliamentary colleagues recognize this and broadly support my bill."Bill CaseyMP, Cumberland Colchester
Casey added, “The bill is really about getting governments, museums and collectors to reorient their thinking; to respect traditional knowledge; and to work as equals with Indigenous peoples to ensure that cultural property is repatriated when possible.”
Casey looks forward to working with his parliamentary colleagues and debating this bill in the House of Commons, expected later this spring.