On the same day the Royal B.C. Museum CEO announced he is stepping down, the curator of the Indigenous collection took to Twitter to say that this will be his last week, writing that the museum “is established as a bastion of white supremacy.”
Troy Sebastian, a Ktunaxa writer, took on the curator position after Lucy Bell resigned as head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department in July 2020 citing issues of racism and a lack of diversity. Tweeting on Tuesday, Sebastian said, “the fact is that things have gotten worse since last summer when Lucy Bell raised her concerns. When the museum says it is taking action to address racism accusations it is pure gaslighting.”
Following Bell’s resignation, a third-party investigation was launched into the museum and a diversity inclusion consultant was hired to conduct training, interviews and a staff survey. In January, the results of that survey came in, and although not made public, were called “not good” by the museum’s board chair, Dan Muzyka.
“The Royal B.C. Museum has outright discrimination, white privilege, bullying, microaggression. This has been my experience as an Indigenous staff person at the museum,” Sebastian tweeted.
In its statement Tuesday, the museum said CEO Jack Lohman is stepping down “as it addresses current internal issues,” but made no mention of the survey results or allegations of racism. Speaking with Black Press Media last month, Muzyka – who will be serving as CEO until a new person is found – said the museum had begun restructuring at the executive level and developing a comprehensive training program for executives and staff.
Citing article 17.3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Sebastian called on Premier John Horgan on Tuesday to commit to the declaration and hold the museum to account for “routinely discriminating against Indigenous staff.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Horgan told reporters that he was “very concerned” when he heard about the allegations of racism and that he wished Lohman the best and thanked him for his service to B.C. He said minister Melanie Mark – the only Indigenous woman in legislature – is working with the third-party investigating the museum to make sure all allegations are followed up.
Sebastian said his 6-month contract with the museum ends this Friday and he will be using his last few days to speak publicly as a staff member.
This is my last week as Curator of the Indigenous Collection at the @RoyalBCMuseum. I am happy to leave that wicked place behind. Yet, as long as the museum continues to possess my family’s sacred items that were taken from us during residential school, I can never truly leave.
— Troy Sebastian (@Skink00ts) February 9, 2021
–With files from Nina Grossman
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that Sebastian had resigned from his position. In fact, his term was already scheduled to end this Friday.
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