Canada is trying to make amends, and will return a statue they stole from India over 100 years ago.
An Annapurna statue was part of the University of Regina’s collection at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. Lawyer and art collector, Norman MacKenzie, reportedly took the statue back with him in 1913, from a shrine situated on the bank of the river Ganges in Varanasi.
Regina University recognised the wrongful acquisition of the statue and said they would return it. “As a university, we have a responsibility to right historical wrongs and help overcome the damaging legacy of colonialism wherever possible…. Repatriating this statue does not atone for the wrong that was done a century ago, but it is an appropriate and important act today,” Thomas Chase, PhD, Interim President and Vice–Chancellor of the University of Regina.
“The repatriation of the Annapurna is part of a global, long-overdue conversation in which museums seek to address harmful and continuing imperial legacies built into, sometimes, the very foundations of their collections. As stewards of cultural heritage, our responsibility to act respectfully and ethically is fundamental, as is the willingness to look critically at our own institutional histories,” said Alex King, curator of the university’s art collection.
According to reports, artist Divya Mehra realised that the statue was wrongfully taken from India, while browsing through MacKenzie’s collection. The Annapurna statue is now reportedly on its way back to India.