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Royal B.C. Museum apologizes after probe finds racism, ‘culture of fear’

Click to play video: 'Scathing report of discrimination and racism at Royal BC Museum' Scathing report of discrimination and racism at Royal BC Museum
A scathing new report into racism and discrimination at the Royal BC Museum follows an investigation and staff survey. Museum leadership is now promising change.Kylie Stanton reports – Jun 30, 2021

The chairman of Royal British Columbia Museum is apologizing to an Indigenous whistleblower after a report cited acts of racism and discrimination at the attraction in Victoria.

“We want the museum to be where every person feels safe, welcome and appreciated when they walk in the front door. I am sorry that this has not been the case,” Daniel Muzyka said Tuesday during a news conference.

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

The 33-page report stemmed from an independent investigation by the B.C. Public Service Agency and a separate inclusion and psychological safety audit commissioned by the museum’s board.

Click to play video: 'Departing Royal BC Museum curator calls  it a ‘wicked’ place' Departing Royal BC Museum curator calls it a ‘wicked’ place
Departing Royal BC Museum curator calls it a ‘wicked’ place – Feb 11, 2021

The investigation found acts of racism and discrimination against Indigenous team members and other people of colour. The report said leadership did not “effectively handle the behaviour and conditions that fostered these acts.”

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It said many employees called the workplace toxic and said it had a culture of fear.

READ MORE: First Nations leaders condemn widespread reports of racism at Royal BC Museum

It also said the museum’s core galleries, particularly human history exhibits, are outdated, some displays are offensive and they reinforce the colonial history of the province.

“To be frank, these two reports show that we are not the museum we wanted to be and we are not the museum we should be,” Muzyka said.

Click to play video: 'Premier John Horgan on Royal BC Museum controversy' Premier John Horgan on Royal BC Museum controversy
Premier John Horgan on Royal BC Museum controversy – Feb 10, 2021

The museum must do better in how it treats employees and address the systemic racism embedded in its 135-year-old history, he said.

Last July, Lucy Bell, the museum’s head of Indigenous collections, resigned and cited racism she experienced as one of the reasons.

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The report said that was a watershed moment.

READ MORE: Royal BC Museum to stop collecting Indigenous remains in reconciliation effort

At the time, Premier John Horgan responded that he was alarmed by allegations about the museum, which operates as a Crown corporation. Jack Lohman resigned as the museum’s CEO in February.

Muzyka said the search for his replacement is ongoing.

The museum has already started making changes, Muzyka said. It has introduced training courses and is reviewing its policies.

“Since its creation in 1886, the Museum has been a colonial organization that has inadequately showcased the whole story of the peoples of B.C.”

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