First Nations Gallery Opens at Exploration Place; MOUs Signed
Tracy Calogheros, CEO The Exploration Place, Chief Dominick Frederick of the Lheidli T’enneh and David Bird, vice-president The Exploration Place Board of Directors at today’s ribbon cutting
Prince George, B.C. – It was a momentous morning at The Exploration Place to mark National Aboriginal Day.
It started with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Lheidli T’enneh Nation and the Fraser Fort George Museum Society and continued with the opening of a new permanent gallery – the Hodul’eh-a Gallery – meaning Place of Learning.
“It means everything to have this gallery completed and to have people enjoying it,” said Exploration Place CEO Tracy Calogheros. “The space took years worth of work from a relationship building and research standpoint. The actual physical building has been going on in this space for about two-and-a-half months and it’ll be here in perpetuity so we’ll be able to use it going forward.”
She says the gallery was construced in consultation with Lheidli T’enneh elders and is hoping it will foster greater understanding of our history moving forward – including the expulsion of the Lheidli T’enneh from the park in 1913.
“It’s not just an acknowledgement, it’s an understanding. The idea of this being a place of learning is legitimate because learning needs to be done on all sides,” said Calogheros.
“I really think people don’t know the story and so you get caught up in whatever the rhetoric is or in feeling guilt, shame or anger or whatever it is that inspires you. But the facts of the matter are in this gallery and when you’re faced with facts in an unbiased, unvarnished truth, you can make your own choices from there but you can’t make them from ignorance.”
Lheidli T’enneh C hief Dominick Frederick called the gallery “excellent” adding now his people can “move forward.”
“Moving forward to fix it, not totally fix it but we’re moving forward. We don’t bury the hatchet but we’re opening the doors to an understanding of what happened.”
Katherine Scouten, Museum Society president, said the MOU affirms “the shared values for preserving and protecting the cultural assets of the Lheidli people and embracing traditions and knowledge from their perspective.”
The agreement also makes The Exploration Place the designated repository for the Lheidli T’enneh’s collections.
The Lheidli T’enneh signed four other MOUs today, including:
- With the College of New Caledonia to help strengthen the relationship between both parties including continued work on Indigenizing curriculum and student services at CNC.
- A tripartite agreement between the Lheidli T’enneh, the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and the City of Prince George. The renaming of the park acknowledging the City’s commitment to reconciliation and a pledge from the RDFFG to continue its commitment to work alongside the Lheidli T’enneh and the City to “continue to build a strong, inclusive and sustainable region.”
- With the Central Interior Native Health Society to help ensure that Lheidli members who do not have a medical doctor will have an opportunity to access dedicated holistic and wrap-around services for their entire families.
- With Westcana Electric reflecting a commitment by the company to strengthen its ties with the First Nation and support the growth of education and expertise through apprenticeship opportunities.
“The MOUs are important to us because then we solidify our relationships with not only government but with the City and Regional District, the Museum and other organizations,” said Frederick.
Those wanting to check out the new gallery can do so for free today from noon to 4 p.m.