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Royal B.C. Museum chairman apologizes after report finds racism, offensive exhibits


VICTORIA — The chairman of Royal British Columbia Museum is apologizing to an Indigenous whistleblower after a report cited acts of racism and discrimination at the attraction in Victoria.

“We want the museum to be where every person feels safe, welcome and appreciated when they walk in the front door. I am sorry that this has not been the case,” Daniel Muzyka said Tuesday during a news conference.

The 33-page report stemmed from an independent investigation by the B.C. Public Service Agency and a separate inclusion and psychological safety audit commissioned by the museum’s board.

The investigation found acts of racism and discrimination against Indigenous team members and other people of colour. The report said leadership did not “effectively handle the behaviour and conditions that fostered these acts.”

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It said many employees called the workplace toxic and said it had a culture of fear.

It also said the museum’s core galleries, particularly human history exhibits, are outdated, some displays are offensive and they reinforce the colonial history of the province.

“To be frank, these two reports show that we are not the museum we wanted to be and we are not the museum we should be,” Muzyka said.

The museum must do better in how it treats employees and address the systemic racism embedded in its 135-year-old history, he said.

Last July, Lucy Bell, the museum’s head of Indigenous collections, resigned and cited racism she experienced as one of the reasons.

The report said that was a watershed moment.

At the time, Premier John Horgan responded that he was alarmed by allegations about the museum, which operates as a Crown corporation. Jack Lohman resigned as the museum’s CEO in February.

Muzyka said the search for his replacement is ongoing.

The museum has already started making changes, Muzyka said. It has introduced training courses and is reviewing its policies.

“Since its creation in 1886, the Museum has been a colonial organization that has inadequately showcased the whole story of the peoples of B.C.”

By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

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