Since 2016, Rainy River First Nations and the Royal Ontario Museum have been engaged in a collaborative effort to return ancestors and sacred objects that were removed from the community during excavations of the burial mounds in the 1950-'70s.
The ROM recognizes its participation in these past excavations by Walter Kenyon, who served as curator at the ROM from 1956-1982.
Furthermore, the ROM acknowledges the museum presently houses ancestors and sacred objects from RRFN and recognizes its responsibility in facilitating their journey home.
All parties acknowledge this is a shared history and story between RRFN and the ROM, and both groups are committed to mutual learning regarding the history of archaeology, the collection and care of sacred items, and the meaningful redistribution of knowledge that will continue long after the items are returned to the community.
RRFN acknowledges its position as stewards of the burial mounds located within their territory along Manido Ziibi (Spirit River or Rainy River), and accepts the responsibility to continue to preserve and protect the mounds and those who rest within them.
Following the return, the ROM has committed to working collaboratively with RRFN to find culturally-sensitive and respectful means of sharing this story, which can serve as an important educational resource to present and future generations.
The project and the long-term relationship that is being forged between the ROM and RRFN are being built on a foundation of trust and transparency.
It is hoped these steps will begin a healing process which will lead to an increase in community-led projects and the diversification of those who take part in the care of cultural collections.