Preparing a large collaborative research project requires time. Starting in the spring of 2008, we gathered a many interested parties at the Musée amérindien de Mashteuiatsh to talk about aboriginal communities taking back their cultural heritage and the return of important cultural objects to communities.
The discussions held enabled us to work out the principal aspects of the project. Interest was expressed in reconciling the wishes of the communities with the positions of the large museums, sharing information in order to better understand the issues, and in exploring how the research process and the idea of sharing could help improve relations and increase direct contact between First Nations’ communities and their cultural heritage.
In addition to workshop discussions, the meeting facilitated contacts with the community of Masteuiatsh. During an open meeting followed by a community meal, Edouard Kakwa Kurtness, an elder of the Mashteuiatsh community, strongly supported the project, and wondered how it was possible that the return of objects so important to the community had not already taken place.
Nearly three years were required (2008-2010) to obtain funding for the project and to finalise the participation agreements of all concerned.