From Reconnaissance to Repatriation: Reflecting on the work of Dr. George MacDonald and Bill Reid

Equity + Justice, 2023, Indigenous Voices, Arts + Culture, Uphold Truth and Reconciliation, Make a Difference for B.C.

At this event, the Bill Reid Centre’s 2023 Visiting Fellow, Sdahl Ḵ’awaas, Lucy Bell , PhD (ABD) of the Haida Nation reflected on Tla Yahda – Making it right. Perspectives on preserving and practicing Indigenous heritage can evolve over time. By researching, showcasing, and creating Haida art, Dr. George MacDonald and renowned Haida artist Bill Reid played significant roles in raising awareness and respect for Haida art and heritage. They also believed they were making things right in their attempts to “salvage” the past.

The Haida Repatriation Committee, co-founded by Sdahl Ḵ’awaas, Lucy Bell, strives to make things right too. For the past 30 years, the Committee has repatriated hundreds of Ancestral remains and belongings back to Haida Gwaii.

As Lucy reflected on the 12,000 Haida belongings in museums and the generations of Haida change-makers, she also recognized the historical context in which George MacDonald and Bill Reid lived and worked, as well as acknowledge the changing perspectives, actions and priorities of the Haida. This work helps bridge the gap between past actions and present reconciliation efforts, ultimately contributing to a more respectful and inclusive approach to museum practices and Indigenous rights.

This event was free, but donations to the Bill Reid Gallery for Northwest Coast Art were encouraged.

About the Bill Reid Centre Visiting Fellow Initiative

Haida/Canadian artist, Bill Reid (1920-1998) is highly acclaimed and continues to be influential, having profoundly changed the way Indigenous art is produced and received. Through his art practice, advocacy, and writing, Reid had an immeasurable impact on the resurgence of Indigenous arts and its public reception. His legacy continues to stimulate academic and public discourse while facilitating understanding and respect for Indigenous Peoples.

The BRC Visiting Fellowship honours Bill Reid’s legacy by providing an opportunity for the SFU community and the broader public to engage with artists, cultural experts, students, and established scholars whose work address artistic, cultural, philosophical, and political topics impacting Indigenous peoples today. The intent is to support the fellow’s long-term practice, while simultaneously contributing to thought-provoking discussions among students, peers, faculty, and the public.

A key component to the fellowship, the BRC Visiting Fellow Lecture, brings the Fellow’s knowledge and experience to the fore as they share their expertise in a public setting. Held at the Bill Reid Gallery for Northwest Coast Art, this free public event acknowledges and celebrates Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing as integral components of contemporary educational institutions.

If you would like to support the Bill Reid Centre Visiting Fellow Initiative, you can donate directly to the BRC online or by contacting FASS Advancement.

Sdahl Ḵ’awaas, Lucy Bell

Sdahl Ḵ’awaas, Lucy Bell, PhD (ABD) belongs to the Tsiits G’itanee Eagle clan of the Haida Nation. She is a Nation-based scholar and a PhD candidate at SFU, studying Haida museology and repatriation as acts of reconciliation. She is the recipient of the 2021 Sterling Prize for Controversy and the BC Museums Association’s Museum Stewardship Award for speaking out against racism at the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) and the need for change in the museum sector. Lucy is also a Distinguished UVIC Alumna, where she received a MA in language revitalization and a cultural resource management certificate.

Thu, 19 Oct 2023

The Bill Reid Gallery

639 Hornby Street

Vancouver, BC V6C 2G3


Event Partners


In-Person Accessibility

Please note that the event took place at The Bill Reid Gallery, located at 639 Hornby Street (Between Georgia Street and Dunsmuir Street) in downtown Vancouver.

A wheelchair accessible path is located between Christ Church Cathedral and Cathedral Place on Georgia Street. This takes you through the courtyard and to the Gallery entrance. An accessible washroom is located on the lower level of the gallery. 

The Gallery has underground paid parking available for all visitors, open 7 days a week from 6 am to 7 pm. Entrance and exit are located on Hornby Street. On parkade level P1, there are 3 accessible stalls, and an elevator that gets you into the tower across the courtyard from the Gallery. There is no access to the Gallery’s elevator from the parkade.

The Gallery is located near accessible transit. It can be accessed via SkyTrain from the Canada Line’s City Centre Station located in Pacific Centre or the Expo Line’s Burrard Station.

Transit - the closest bus lines are listed below:

  •  the 02, 05, 44 and R5 on Burrard Street, approximately 1 block away from the Gallery entrance;  
  • Buses 209, 210, 211, 214, 240, 241, 246, 247, 250, 253, 254, 257 on Georgia Street;  
  • 04, 07, 10, 14, 16, 050 on Dunsmuir, and 19, 22 on Pender St, approximately 2 blocks away.

Shuttles can drop off passengers at the Loading Zone located on West Georgia Street between Hornby and Burrard Street (for flat access), or on Burrard Street (for stairs access).

Learn more on the Bill Reid Gallery website

Community guidelines

Our community guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of all guest speakers and event participants, and to foster honest, socially accountable dialogue at our events. Thank you for respecting these guidelines!

  • Above all, there will be zero tolerance for those who promote violence or discrimination against others on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, or disability. Anyone who incites harm towards other participants (whether through chat, video, audio or otherwise) will be removed at the discretion of our technical team and moderator.
  • Don’t assume pronouns/gender/knowledge based on someone’s name or appearance. Please refer to people using the usernames and/or pronouns they provide.
  • Take space, make space: share your perspective, and make space for other voices to be heard too. Recognize that we are all here to learn.