British Columbia

Canadian Museums Association backs board president amid resignations

Three Canadian Museums Association board members tendered their resignation last week, amid a racially charged controversy involving board president and former Royal B.C. Museum CEO Jack Lohman.

Jack Lohman stepped down as CEO of the Royal B.C. Museum in February

In a statement, the Canadian Museums Association confirmed that Jack Lohman, pictured here, would fulfill his mandate, despite recently stepping down as CEO of the Royal B.C. Museum amid internal issues. (Canadian Press)

Three Canadian Museums Association board members tendered their resignation last week, amid a racially charged controversy involving board president and former Royal B.C. Museum CEO, Jack Lohman.

The departures include Margaret Chrumka, executive director of the Kamloops Art Gallery, Stephen Borys, director and CEO of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Bank of Canada Museum director Ken Ross.

The former directors would not comment on the specifics of their resignations but expressed ongoing commitments to diversity and inclusion, as well as Truth and Reconciliation at their respective museums.

In February, Lohman left the RBCM amid "internal issues."

A third-party public service agency is currently investigating allegations of racism among RBCM staff.

The investigation was triggered after Lucy Bell, a Haida nation member, quit as head of the First Nations Department and Repatriation Program claiming the institution was home to discrimination, bullying and white privilege.

Resignations and competing opinions

In a statement to Canadian Museums Association members, executive director and CEO Vanda Vitali acknowledged the differing opinions around Lohman's continued tenure.

"A few of you have suggested that Prof. Lohman should step down from his role at the CMA as well. Others have expressed their interest in having him stay on until the end of his mandate, which is just five weeks away," she wrote. 

"The Board determined last week that Prof. Lohman should remain in his role."

She said the three members chose to leave "following this decision."

Vitali adds that the board has "been actively monitoring and discussing the situation" and is "mindful" of the ongoing third-party investigation. 

Established in 1947, the CMA describes itself as "the voice for Canada's vibrant museum community."  In 2018, it established a Reconciliation Council, to review and recommend national museum policies and practices, in compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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