The chief executive officer of the Royal BC Museum, Jack Lohman, is stepping down, a mutual decision made with the board, according to a news release issued on Tuesday.
The museum is under investigation over allegations of systemic racism.
“Prof. Lohman and the board of directors considered how best to move the organization forward as it addresses current internal issues while carrying on its usual work and the modernization initiatives in progress,” the release said. “It was mutually agreed that his departure would be in the best interests of the organization.”
Friday will be Dr. Lohman’s last day. Board chair Daniel Muzyka will fill in during the search for a replacement.
Lucy Bell, who is Haida, resigned last year as head of the First Nations Department and Repatriation Program at the museum in Victoria, citing systemic racism.
“There is outright discrimination,” Ms. Bell said in a speech in July. “There’s white privilege. There’s bullying. There’s micro-aggressions that happen here every day. I have felt it a lot from executive, I have felt it a lot from my colleagues.”
Ms. Bell said after the announcement that she was in shock.
“I think what I’m feeling is just grateful that the board listened to me. I really do feel heard,” she said. “It’s bittersweet. When I started at the RBCM, I wanted to leave a different kind of a legacy.”
Ms. Bell said concerns that staff members reported on these issues were often “shrugged off.”
After Ms. Bell’s resignation, the museum brought in an inclusion and diversity consultant and the B.C. Public Service Agency launched an investigation, which is ongoing.
The Globe and Mail recently reported that an internal workplace culture survey by the consultant found that, overall, staff felt the museum is “a dysfunctional and ‘toxic’ workplace, characterized by a culture of fear and distrust.”
Dr. Lohman, former director of the Museum of London, joined the museum in 2012.
“The board of directors acknowledges, with appreciation, his nine years of vision and service,” the news release said.
Dr. Lohman was not available for an interview this week, the museum said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Troy Sebastian, the museum’s curator of the Indigenous Collection, wrote a thread of tweets saying things at the museum have worsened since Ms. Bell’s departure and calling on the province to take action.
“The announcement today is good news for the museum, but the museum still hasn’t acknowledged that it’s systemically racist, nor has it acknowledged that it’s a hostile place for Indigenous peoples,” Mr. Sebastian told The Globe.
Mr. Sebastian, whose contract ends on Friday, said he felt compelled to go public with his criticisms as a current staff member.
“I absolutely can confirm that there’s discrimination, bullying, an immense amount of white privilege at the museum and that it is systemically racist. Whatever the news is today, that is not something the museum has acknowledged,” Mr. Sebastian said.
Mr. Sebastian, who is Ktunaxa, called for a major reset at the museum. He said he could not see a future in which an institution with such an important collection of Indigenous items, including remains, was not run by Indigenous people.
“The old tired and exhausted regime of white privilege and Indigenous erasure must end,” he said.
Dr. Lohman is board president of the Canadian Museums Association. The CMA did not immediately respond to a question about his future there.
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