Delegates are coming from as far away as Sweden to attend the aboriginal repatriation conference in Masset tomorrow and Saturday (May 21 and 22), says Lucille Bell, one of the event’s organizers.
Ms Bell said she is expecting about 100 people to attend the conference, which has been in the planning stages for the past six months.
Old Massett decided to host the event after receiving queries from other First Nations asking how the Haida Nation has been so successful at repatriating ancestors and artifacts from museums, Ms Bell said.
“We’ve been involved in repatriation for nine years,” she said. “We get a lot of requests from other groups about how we did it.”
Ms Bell said she was talking to a National Geographic reporter last week who described the Haida as “pro-active and positive” – attributes which are key to their repatriation success.
Conference speakers include Harry Nyce from the Nisga’a Lisims Government, Helen Robbins from the Chicago Field Museum, Andrea Laforet from the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and members of the Haida Repatriation Committee.
For a complete schedule (and an amazing array of photos), visit www.aboriginalrepatriation.org
About 20 artists have booked tables for an aboriginal art market to be held in conjunction with the conference, Ms Bell said. The conference also includes a film festival. Thursday night at 7 pm at the Old Massett community hall is the north-end debut of “Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii”, a 70-minute documentary about the recent Chicago Field Museum repatriation trip. Other films scheduled to be shown throughout the weekend are Totem: The Return of the G’psgolox Pole, Our Nationhood and Kainayssini Imanistaisiwa: The People Go On. The film festival is $10 per night.
Saturday night will feature the Kung Glunn Nay Fashion Show and a loonie auction, $10 per person. On Sunday, conference participants can join a tour to Tow Hill, or enjoy afternoon tea at the Masset Maritime Museum.
Ms Bell said the committee is still looking for volunteers, especially billets and people who can make desserts for the feast Saturday night. Volunteers can attend the conference free. Call 626-5115 if you can help out.
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