Nisga'a Nation celebrates return of totem after it was taken almost a century ago

Nisga'a celebrate return

A ceremony will be held today by the Nisga'a Nation in northern British Columbia for a memorial totem that has gone to Scotland and back over the last century.

The 11-metre totem was carved in 1860 to honour a dead chief, but it was taken almost 100 years ago by a person doing research in the village and then sold to the National Museum of Scotland.

A Nisga'a delegation, including some with family connections to the totem, travelled to Scotland a year ago to ask for its return, which was granted by the museum and then approved by Scottish government.

The totem's arrival in the remote northern community comes the day before Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, held to honour residential school survivors and the children who did not come home.

Nisga'a Nation President Eva Clayton says the return of the totem will set a tone for other Indigenous nations to begin efforts to repatriate their possessionstaken by governments, religious groups or museums.

Murray Rankin, B.C.'s minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, says the totem's homecoming could be a catalyst that spreads worldwide as more countries and institutions face requests by Indigenous Peoples to return their artifacts.

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