Cultural Artifacts and Heritage

Religious and other artifacts of British Columbia aboriginal people are in museum collections across Canada and around the world. While aboriginal people want to share their culture with the world, they are seeking to have many of their artifacts returned to them, particularly those of religious significance.

The Final Agreement sets out sharing of Nisga’a artifacts between the Nisga’a Nation, Canada and British Columbia. The Nisga’a will receive significant portions of the artifacts from the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Royal British Columbia Museum. The museums will retain collections to celebrate and share Nisga’a culture and heritage.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa will return all Nisga’a artifacts of a religious nature from its collection to the Nisga’a. When the Nisga’a build a museum facility, the Museum of Civilization will loan them all other Nisga’a artifacts on a rotating basis.

The Royal British Columbia Museum will return to the Nisga’a approximately 50 per cent of the Nisga’a artifacts from its collection. This includes all types of artifacts, not just those of a religious nature. Both museums retain a representative collection of Nisga’a artifacts.

Protection of Heritage Sites

In British Columbia, the Heritage Conservation Act defines heritage sites as "whether designated or not, land, including land covered by water, that has heritage value to British Columbia, a community or an aboriginal people." Provincial heritage legislation continues to apply on Nisga’a Lands. The Nisga’a may develop their own processes to manage Nisga’a and non-Nisga’a heritage sites on Nisga’a Lands as long as the processes meet or exceed the provincial standards.

For further information on this or other topics, contact:

Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
Communications Branch
4th Floor, 908 Pandora Avenue
Victoria BC V8W 1X4
Telephone: 1-800-880-1022