As a citizen of Canada and resident of Toronto, Ontario, I have the privilege to live in a city with plenty of museums and amazing cultural heritage. This privilege ranges from ongoing festivals, which celebrate diversity and the multiculturalism that our city is known for to outstanding museum collections such as the Royal Ontario Museum to celebrate our past.
While we appreciate and are grateful for this privilege, there is also a certain level of responsibility that comes with protecting our heritage. In essence, we are stewards of our past, stewards of the objects and material culture, which have come down to us through our predecessors. Yet, there are many challenges that our heritage faces and are highlighted exceptionally by Colin Renfrew, who writes:
Crisis is not too strong a word to use when we speak of the predicament which today faces the historic heritage in nearly every country on earth. The world’s archaeological resource, which through the practice of archaeology is our principal source of knowledge about the early human past, is being destroyed at a formidable and increasing rate. It is destroyed by looters in order to serve the lucrative market in illicit artefacts through which private collectors and, alas, some of the major museums of the world, fulfil their desire to accumulate antiquities. (1)
Crisis. Think about it for one moment.