The Royal Alberta Museum has returned ownership of seven cultural artifacts from its collections to the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. This gesture comes as part of what the province has said is meant to be in the spirit of reconciliation. The return of ownership of seven objects to the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) was completed under the terms of the Historical Resources Act.

According to the province, The Royal Alberta Museum and Alberta’s government are working with Indigenous leaders and communities to address past wrongs and harm done to Indigenous Peoples. Part of this work includes identifying and returning Indigenous cultural artifacts.

Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Allan Adam, said that the turning of the artifacts is a great example of what’s possible when communities work together.

“There is still much to do to repatriate additional items but we thank Minister Orr for recognizing the importance of returning these pieces of ACFN history. Marsi cho.”

Among the artifacts returned were the Treaty 8 medal and its leather strap while the remaining five objects will be on loan to the Royal Alberta Museum for preservation purposes as they are larger, fragile and difficult to move. The ACFN has approved these items remaining at the museum and can choose to move these objects at any time.

“Returning culturally significant artifacts to the communities they came from is a necessary and important step towards reconciliation. Alberta’s government and the Royal Alberta Museum are committed to working with Indigenous communities to honour the significance of Indigenous artifacts and the stories they tell," said Alberta's Minister of Culture, Ron Orr. 

The Executive director of the Royal Alberta Museum, Meaghan Patterson said that the return of these objects to the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is a powerful moment and that the Royal Alberta Museum is honoured to take this important step toward reconciliation.

"We look forward to exploring future opportunities to strengthen our relationship with Alberta’s Indigenous communities.”

The Royal Alberta Museum said that to honour the unique relationship between Indigenous Peoples of Alberta and the Crown, the museum offers free admission to Indigenous Peoples.

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