Ex-finance minister Carole James named to Royal BC Museum board amid racism controversy

Click to play video: 'Former Finance Minister Carole James takes board seat with Royal BC Museum'
Former Finance Minister Carole James takes board seat with Royal BC Museum
Former Finance Minister Carole James is taking on a new role outside of the political arena. – Feb 16, 2021

One of the province’s most recognizable former politicians has been tasked with helping to solve the ongoing controversy at the Royal BC Museum over its treatment of Indigenous staff and handling of Indigenous culture.

Former Finance Minister Carole James was appointed to the museum’s board of directors on Friday, just days after museum CEO Jack Lohman stepped down from his position.

Click to play video: 'Premier John Horgan on Royal BC Museum controversy'
Premier John Horgan on Royal BC Museum controversy

James, who self-identifies as part Métis, would be added to the board that before her addition had 10 members listed online.

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“I am happy and grateful that Carole has agreed to take on this new role,” Premier John Horgan said.

“Carole cares deeply about the people and stories that make up the history of this province and there is no question that her experience, knowledge and leadership will help the Royal BC Museum.”

Read more: Outgoing Royal BC Museum Indigenous collection curator calls it a ‘wicked’ place

Click to play video: 'Carole James stepping away from B.C. politics'
Carole James stepping away from B.C. politics

The museum’s outgoing Indigenous collection curator Troy Sebastian took to social media last week to blast the institution, which he described as a “wicked place.”

Sebastian, a Ktunaxa writer, said the museum has failed to acknowledge the presence of systemic racism in the institution and said its culture remains steeped in a colonial mindset.

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Sebastian also echoed Lucy Bell, a Haida woman and former head of the Indigenous Collection and Repatriation Department, who cited racism in her resignation last summer.

James is one of Horgan’s closest political allies and is currently serving as an advisor being paid a symbolic $1 a year. The long time Victoria area MLA quit politics last year following a Parkinson’s diagnosis. She has often expressed the importance the Royal BC Museum has had on the lives of herself and her family.

Click to play video: 'Departing Royal BC Museum curator calls  it a ‘wicked’ place'
Departing Royal BC Museum curator calls it a ‘wicked’ place

There are two separate investigations underway currently looking into the museum. The museum hired a diversity and inclusion consultant in August after Bell’s departure and has a task force working on a report into its equity, diversity and inclusion policies. A separate formal investigation is being headed by the Public Service Agency.

Daniel Muzyka, the museum’s acting CEO and board chair, said the institution was taking Sebatian’s complaints seriously.

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“Any allegations brought up by Troy or others in the museum we’ve been very conscious of, and we’ve been following up,” he said.

–with files from Kylie Stanton and Simon Little 


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