Under the Museums Act the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) develops and maintains collections in order to increase knowledge, appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements in Canada and around the world. The Museum continues to develop collections to represent all of the peoples of Canada, and to make them accessible through as many avenues as possible.
Over the past twenty-five years the Canadian Museum of Civilization has responded to requests from communities for repatriation. Most, but not all, of these requests have come from Aboriginal communities. A Human Remains Policy, that includes provision for repatriation of human remains to First Nations, was established by the CMCC in 1991.
In working with Aboriginal communities and individuals to resolve issues concerning repatriation, the CMCC is guided by the Museums Act (1990), the recommendations of the Task Force on First Peoples and Museums, jointly sponsored by the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Museums Association (1992), and the Canadian Museum of Civilization Repatriation Policy (2001), which addresses both human remains and objects. Since the early 1990s the Canadian Museum of Civilization has provided for repatriation through three main paths, response to requests received from First Nations, the Sacred Materials project (which provides First Nations with an opportunity to review collections held by the CMCC, identify objects requiring special care, and discuss repatriation, as required), and the treaty process.
Following discussion with the Aboriginal communities concerned, the CMCC has returned human remains to First Nations in several regions of Canada, wampum to the Six Nations Confederacy, and medicine bundles and other objects important to Plains communities. Through the treaty process the CMCC has reached repatriation agreements with the Nisga’a and the Labrador Inuit Association. The Nisga’a and the CMCC have also concluded a Custodial Arrangements Agreement that provides for shared possession on a rotating basis of objects of Nisga’a origin remaining in the CMCC collection.