They also spelled my name right, which is the important thing.
That's the impact it's had. We had calls from Germany. We had calls from Britain, the U.S., and all over asking about the details of the bill. We had a call from the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Association of Museums, which represents 52 countries with thousands of museums. They suggested that they may use this bill as a template for other countries that are trying to get their artifacts back—especially African countries, which have seen many of their artifacts taken all over the world.
Therrefore, we've already had an impact. We had one family call and tell us that they have indigenous artifacts and they don't know what to do with them. This bill would provide a place for them to go. The family told us that they want the artifacts to go back to the proper people, to go back to the people they came from. They don't know what to do.
This bill will help to provide that doorway that people can go to if they do have artifacts to return.
Yesterday I received an email from Chief Dean Nelson, who says:
...I am the political chief of the Lil'wat people
That's in Mount Currie in British Columbia.
I thank you for your efforts in the introduction of this Bill C-391. I am currently pursuing the very same action of repatriation. If there's anything we can do to [help] strengthen these efforts, please [let us know].
We've heard from indigenous peoples all across the country. When we started, we consulted with just our local indigenous community, but since then we've consulted with dozens of museums and indigenous communities to make sure that we did this right.
When we first started, we didn't realize what a big thing this might end up being. It was just to add a voice. That was our goal, just to add a voice, but it seems that countries around the world are really anxious to have their artifacts repatriated.
In a coincidence, I went to the Indigenous Tourism Association meeting last spring, and the number one issue to them was repatriation of artifacts for economic purposes—not for heritage and culture so much, but for economic purposes, because people who want to come to first nations are really interested in the history and the heritage and they want to see the artifacts. They want to see the history. The young people want to see how things were made. They want to see the talent. They want to see the processes that were in place in the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s. That's what this artifacts issue is really about.
In the U.S., they did it a little differently. They developed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which requires confiscation of artifacts. Our bill does not require confiscation. It would mean that if artifacts are available or have been obtained through nefarious approaches, the Government of Canada has a structure and a policy to help first nations bring them back.
Millbrook First Nation has about 1,500 to 2,000 people; it depends on how you count them. They're incredibly innovative and imaginative and they do a wonderful job, but still, they're 1,500 to 2,000 people and they do not have the resources to take on something like this repatriation of the robe. However, if this bill passes—I hope you'll help us with it—they will have some place to go to in order to ask for advice on storage, repatriation, restoration and safekeeping.
I'm sure you all heard about the museum in Brazil that burned to the ground a week or so ago. A whole lot of Canadian aboriginal artifacts were lost in that fire, priceless artifacts that are gone forever and ever because they weren't stored properly. Maybe we can save some future losses if we can have this bill passed and we can get those artifacts back in our own hands and properly stored.
It's been a thrill to be involved with this issue. It's been a thrill to talk to aboriginal peoples all across the country and all around the world about this. It's been very gratifying to me. What started out to be a small thing to just add a voice has turned out to be something really meaningful, and I appreciate your attention to it.
I have to hand it to Heather Stevens. She's done a great job on this.
Heather, thanks very much.
Joel, too, you did a great job.
With that, I'm going to finish my remarks. I welcome your interventions and questions and everything else.
Thanks very much.