Policy for serving Indigenous clients and preserving Indigenous collections

The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) has developed this policy in response to recommendations made at the Symposium 2007 “Preserving Aboriginal Heritage: Technical and Traditional Approaches” (held in Ottawa, September 2007). The policy provides CCI management and staff with a framework for delivering services and training to Indigenous organisations and heritage institutions with Indigenous heritage collections in a way that respects Indigenous cultures and beliefs.

Application

  • CCI management and staff shall refer to this policy when assessing service requests and/or delivering services for preservation of Indigenous objects and collections.
  • CCI services include: assessment of facilities, treatment and analysis of heritage objects, and training, as well as the development and dissemination of publications and online learning resources.

Context

Indigenous communities (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) in Canada are increasingly becoming responsible for the preservation of their culture and heritage. These communities are diverse, and many have their own protocols and beliefs related to culture and heritage preservation issues.

CCI provides services to Indigenous organizations and communities as well as heritage institutions with Indigenous collections in accordance with CCI's Policy on cost recovery. These institutions include:

  • small Canadian not-for-profit, incorporated public museums, art galleries, archives, libraries, and historic sites;
  • Canadian heritage and conservation associations; and
  • community-based organizations (incorporated and not-for-profit), representing Indigenous communities and societies in Canada.

CCI also provides training to these clients, and develops publications and online learning resources to address the conservation and preservation needs of Indigenous heritage objects and works of art.

Policy requirements

When assessing service requests and/or providing services and training to Indigenous institutions and communities, CCI management and staff should:

  • clarify the goals and objectives of the service and ensure sufficient time for discussions, questions, and answers;
  • work with the client to establish an approach to the request that is in keeping with the values and traditions of the client's community;
  • ensure the cultural beliefs and traditions of the community are respected by seeking out any necessary information (e.g. protocols and historical, cultural, and current issues as they relate to conservation of heritage objects);
  • establish a relationship with elders and other traditional people who are acceptable to the community (if appropriate);
  • maintain awareness of all applicable Government of Canada policies and procedures related to Indigenous Canadians; and
  • seek out "Indigenous awareness training" if needed (e.g. if the project is complex and sensitive, or if the staff member has little or no experience working with Indigenous communities).

When providing services related to scientific analysis and treatment of Indigenous heritage objects and works of art owned by non-Indigenous heritage institutions, CCI management and staff should determine:

  • whether or not the museum has consulted with the appropriate cultural authorities or the community from which the Indigenous heritage object came; and
  • if there are any restrictions concerning the care and handling of the object.

References

  • Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples, “Turning the Page: Forging New Partnerships Between Museums and First Peoples” – a report jointly sponsored by the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Museums Association, Ottawa, 1992. CCI Library
  • Aboriginal Awareness Workshop, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1999. CCI Library
  • Report on Canadian Heritage’s Aboriginal Gathering Series
  • Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

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