TWO skulls that were taken from graves in Newfoundland in the 19th century and are now in the possession of the National Museum of Scotland are to be returned to Canada.

National Museums Scotland has announced an agreement with the Canadian Government to to arrange the transfer of the remains of two Beothuk people, Nonosabasut and Demasduit, to Canada.

Tonight the Canadian Minister of Heritage said they would eventually be sent to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Canadian Government made a formal request for the human remains last year, and indigenous groups have long sought their return.

READ MORE: The Herald on Sunday's Big Read on the Beothuk remains

Dr Gordon Rintoul, the director of National Museums Scotland said: "We are pleased to have reached this agreement and to be able to transfer the remains of these two Beothuk people to the country where they lived and were buried.

“The Board of Trustees of National Museums Scotland considered a formal request received from the Canadian Government in July 2018 to transfer the remains of two Beothuk people, Nonosabasut and Demasduit, from National Museums Scotland to the Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa.

“Following careful consideration in line with our Human Remains in Collections Policy, the Board approved the request and we have subsequently sought and now received the required approval from the Scottish Government. We have informed the Canadian Government and the Canadian Museum of History and are now making arrangements to transfer the remains.”

READ MORE: The inside story of the Beothuk remains

The remains were sent to Scotland by William Eppes Cormack (1796-1868) who was born in St John’s, Newfoundland and educated at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities. In 1828, he sent them to his mentor, Professor Robert Jameson for the collection of the University Museum in Edinburgh.

This collection was later transferred to the Industrial Museum of Scotland (now the National Museum of Scotland) in the 1850s.

This weekend, Dr Rintoul told The Herald in an interview on the matter: "I think it's really important that museums do not duck the difficult histories attached to these objects.

"We cannot re-write the past, but what we can do is be honest about what that past is, and how we acquired some of that material."

Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, said in a statement: "Today, we mark the decision by National Museums Scotland (NMS) to repatriate the remains of Demasduit and her husband Nonosabasut, two Beothuk individuals of national significance for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and our country.

"The Government of Canada is very grateful for the understanding, co-operation and goodwill shown by NMS and the Scottish government throughout the course of Canada’s efforts to secure the return of these remains.

"Canadian Heritage agreed to make a request to NMS for their return on behalf of the Government of Canada and in collaboration with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Indigenous communities.

"The Government of Canada thanks the Indigenous communities and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for their support and leadership throughout this project.

"The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and understands how important gestures such as this are to that healing process. The government will work with NMS on the repatriation process to Canada. The remains will then be transferred to Newfoundland and Labrador."