Dr Robin Gray becomes UTM’s First Special Advisor on Indigenous Rematriation

November 16, 2022 by Shreeya Lamba

Congratulations to Dr Robin R.R. Gray for her recent appointment as UTM’s first Special Advisor on Indigenous Rematriation. UTM’s Indigenous Table, which acts as a guiding figure in the campus’s path towards reconciliation and mutually positive relations, has worked collaboratively to create this position. 

Dr Gray, who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, has studied repatriation efforts around the world in order to develop rematriation models. Rematriation, a term coined by Indigenous women, refers to an Indigenous feminist sociopolitical framework that focuses on the recovery and return of cultural values.  Dr Gray has published many works including an upcoming book on its importance for decolonial futures. She also facilitates partnerships between universities and Indigenous communities through her work as a Principal Investigator and Collaborator on two SSHRC grants which both centre Indigenous cultural heritage preservation. 
As the Special Advisor on Indigenous Rematriation, Dr Gray will turn her attention to the living history of Indigenous artefacts excavated from the Antrex Village site in Mississauga. These artefacts have since been moved to UTM’s Department of Anthropology. Working together and reciprocally with Indigenous communities, Dr Gray will build a plan for protecting these artefacts.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 67th Call to Action requires that the Canadian government fund a national museum policy review in partnership with Indigenous Peoples. It is a repatriation effort that the government has not yet made, however. In comparison, countries with similar settler-colonial histories like the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand all have official, government-supported museum repatriation policies. As of 2019, over 6.5 million Indigenous artefacts are still held in Canadian museums. Given the Canadian government’s inaction, Dr Gray’s artefact protection effort is especially important. Her work supports UTM in its goal to honour the calls of Wecheehetowin, the University of Toronto’s official report in response to the TRC. 

UTM’s Strategic Framework prioritizes the core values of truth, reciprocity, Indigenization, and reconciliation. Through her work, Dr Gray collaborates with UTM to model all of these values and encourage them within her community– and within Canadians as a whole.