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LETTER: Royal BC Museum a monument to colonialism

The Royal British Columbia Museum announced that soon the insidious shrine to colonialism known as “Becoming B.C.” will be dismantled to aid the cause of “decolonization.”

This 12,524-square-foot exhibit – that’s been allowed to fester steps away from the heart of our provincial government – traces the history of British Columbia over the last 200 years. Its centerpiece being a replica cobblestone street lined with 20 historical display buildings (a Gold Rush-era hotel, a functioning silent movie theater, etc.) that are meant to portray life in Victoria during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As will the “First Peoples” exhibit (an exhibit meant to display Native American art and pre-colonial culture) be removed as per the museum’s stand against colonization.

What will replace these exhibits? We don’t know, they say we might not know for years. But it doesn’t matter. For this is hollow; this is colonist back-slapping; this is a merely symbolic gesture; this, in short, is not enough.

For everything about the museum is colonial. The concrete, steel, and glass of which it’s made are the result of technologies brought to “British (as they so arrogantly called it) Columbia” by the colonizers. Even the very concept of a museum was brought by the colonizers. Worst of all, just look at the name: Royal British Columbia Museum. “Royal” referring to the imperialist leadership of the colonizers; “British” to the homeland of the colonizers; “Columbia,” the feminine of “Columbus”; and “Museum,” from the colonizer language of English via Latin (the language of those other gluttonous European colonizers: the Romans), from the Greek (colonizers again) “Mouseion,” or “temple of the Muses;” such as that famously set to flame in Egypt, and better known today as the Library of Alexandria. A house of treasures built – like our RBCM – by colonizers in a foreign land, and which now provides a fiery beacon to light the way for our own modern “Mouseion.”

This monument to colonialism must be burnt to ash and nothing but, if ever we are to call ourselves true believers in the cause of social justice.

Elijah Valkaria