Delegates from around B.C. gathered in the Comox Valley to explore the region’s rich history, and to establish the British Columbia Historical Federation’s priorities for the next year.
They supported a resolution to reduce fees and improve public access to invaluable images and documents in the British Columbia Archives and endorsed a campaign to transform the British Columbia Maritime Museum in Victoria into a national museum by 2021 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of British Columbia joining Confederation. Maritime Museum Executive Director David Leverton told delegates the museum will endeavour to be, “The smallest museum in Canada with the largest public outreach.”
The BCHF is also encouraging its members to put heritage issues on the public agenda during the fall federal election through its Step Up For History campaign. The BCHF wants more commitment from the federal government to protect Canada’s heritage structures and landscapes. Government must also be compelled to reduce carbon emissions from these structures during this era of climate change.
Delegates learned about new fundraising strategies for non-profit organizations, and the need to engage citizens who may contribute to them through compelling stories about our shared history.
Karen Aird from the First Peoples Cultural Council told delegates that Indigenous cultural heritage has long been ignored and proposed new understanding and collaboration.
Various tours of Cumberland, Courtenay, Comox, and Union Bay brought some of the cultural and natural history of Comox Valley region to life.
The BCHF thanks the Courtenay Museum and Palaeontology Centre for its inspired hosting of the conference.
Awards were presented for the best historical writing in the province. The annual Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Competition carries a $2,500 first prize — the most significant in the province. Congratulations to Tyler McCreary author of Shared Histories: Witsuwit’en – Settler Relationships in Smithers, British Columbia, 1913-1973, Creekstone Press.
The BCHF Centennial Fund is also making a $4,800 to the Dixon Maritime Museum (Masset) to tell the stories of the boat building families, $900 to the Atlin Historical Society for their current transportation exhibit project, and $4,300 to Jaqueline Pearce of Burnaby for her Internment Haiku Project. These investments will realize new history research, writing and exhibition projects.
The British Columbia Historical Federation represents heritage societies, local museums, and organizations engaged in researching and promoting British Columbia’s history. Archivist, curator and librarian Shannon Bettles was elected president of the province-wide federation, replacing outgoing president K. Jane Watt. Ms Bettles commented on the success of this year’s conference:
“The annual conference showcases the dedication of members and others from around the province who commit to the ongoing preservation and presentation of British Columbia’s history, culture and heritage. It’s an opportunity for people to come together, to listen to and tell stories, and then to head back home feeling inspired to share what was learned.”