This study trip was a rare opportunity for me to represent Canada and to learn about the global movement in restitution, reconciliation and repatriation in the world.

Travel Report: Lucy Bell

Lucy Bell, a PhD student in Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies received an Indigenous Graduate Student Travel Award (GIRTA) to further her research in Santiago, Chile.

June 11, 2020
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Haw.aa, thank you for the support of my research trip to Santiago, Chile in October, 2019. It was an opportunity to meet with global museum professionals working in repatriation and restitution. As a Canadian Indigenous leader in repatriation and museology, it was an opportunity to speak about how we are addressing UNDRIP and the TRC in Canadian heritage institutions. I shared my story of repatriating over 500 Haida ancestral remains and making institutional changes at the Royal BC Museum. I joined a forum with professionals from New Zealand, Bolivia and Rapa Nui to speak to Chilean government officials, University students and other heritage specialists. The general consensus was that global changes in restitution and repatriation are needed.

My new Chilean colleagues brought me to Valparaiso, the beautiful sea port near Santiago. We visited the UNESCO historic site, rode the funicular lifts and shared stories and experiences of UNESCO sites as we visited the many colourful murals in the city. This day-trip also gave me the opportunity to talk further with my colleague from New Zealand, doing his PhD studies in Indigenous museology as well.

After the amazing day in Valparaiso, I returned to Santiago in the middle of the start of the protest. I was tear-gassed on my way back from the bus station!  (I do NOT recommend it!) The next day as the city was declared in a state of emergency, I was escorted by security guards to the airport. This was a surreal and scary experience that added to my appreciation for the need for restitution.

This study trip was a rare opportunity for me to represent Canada and to learn about the global movement in restitution, reconciliation and repatriation in the world. This whole experience has influenced my research and I look forward to further connection with my new colleagues.

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