BCHF News From the President: BCHF 1922—2022

From the President: BCHF 1922—2022

— Shannon Bettles, President

Today I learned that on January 11, Kaye Kaminishi turned 100 years old. He is the last living member of the legendary Vancouver Asahi baseball club.

It’s pretty incredible to think about — the things that Kaye and other centenarians would have seen throughout their lifetime. As we enter another year of the global pandemic, I am curious about the resilience someone like Kaye must have had through their 100 years.

There are so many questions I would like to ask him.

Closer to home, my friend Joan, a nonagenarian, has handled the challenges of the pandemic with grace. Having lived through various world events, changes in technology and outliving so many family members and friends, she quietly does her part to care about friends and neighbours, and she seems to simply carry on. Joan is my inspiration and I try to channel her wisdom, working to adjust to life’s curve balls and doing my part to stay healthy and help others where I can.

Time, remembrance, and history are on my mind. These days, it seems easier to look backwards than it does to look forward.

All of the above is to say that 100 years is a significant amount of time in which to exist and gain wisdom —to learn from the past. As the BC Historical Federation turns 100 years old this year, the significance of the organization’s longevity is not lost on me. In fact, for the past few years, it has been somewhat of a reoccurring fear of mine that the Federation might sink in its 99th year under my watch. I’ve had to follow in some pretty big footsteps, some incredible Presidents and Board Members have worked hard for the Federation before me.

Well, friends, the ship is still afloat and the Federation is adjusting with the times. BCHF will officially turn 100 on June 20, 2022.

Looking back, 2021 was a difficult year for heritage organizations and historical societies in BC. We continue to feel effects of the pandemic and we have possibly even greater challenges ahead of us as we grapple with extreme weather events brought about by climate change. Our hearts are with the communities affected by the heat domes and wildfires, such as Lytton. And we can’t forget the November floods in the Sumas Valley, Merritt and Princeton. We acknowledge the pain of Indigenous communities as the sad truths about Indian Residential Schools are retold, and we stand with those communities in our province who are fighting back against racism.

Looking ahead, the Federation will be considering what it means to exist as an organization for 100 years. Where did the organization start from and why was it formed? And, what has happened in history through that time? Some of the stories are difficult — to begin with, the Federation itself is a product of colonization. Today, the BCHF reconciles with this fact, and works to promote little shared stories from many voices around the province, guided by communities who are sharing their history, culture and heritage in their own way.

And, we salute our membership, composed of the province’s historical societies, historic sites, museums, archives, First Nations, and those participating or working in the field of history, culture and heritage. You’ve stood by us, supported our initiatives and you continue to serve communities across the corners of the province.

Watch for our spring issue of British Columbia History, an anniversary edition. We’ve initiated three new recognition awards, and we continue to fundraise for and distribute our Centennial Legacy Fund that supports projects that preserve and provide access to aspects of BC history. In June, our annual conference explores the theme of memory and we recognize excellence of people working in public history around the province at our Gala awards evening. Last year, we launched our new graphic branding, and soon we will launch our anniversary logo.

Even though we face multiple challenges and hardships all around us, there are many things to look forward to as we send the BC Historical Federation into its next 100 years.

As I complete my three year term as President this year —nearly all of it during a pandemic— I look forward to attending future in-person conferences and events where we will meet and laugh together again. Please join us and continue to contribute. BCHF has been entirely run by volunteers for 100 years, and so it is truly a community effort requiring many hands.

Take good care.

Shannon Bettles, pictured in former town of Anyox, British Columbia. Photograph by Grayson Peters (age 9).