Odyssey of repatriation in northern B.C.

Donald Luxton will be in Maple Ridge on Thursday May

The Nisga’a Museum is a unique institution that is a direct result of the Nisga’a Treaty signed in 2000.

Bringing our ancestors home: that is the title of a talk Donald Luxton will present Thursday, May 24 to the members of the Maple Ridge Historical Society, their guests, and anyone else interested.

The talk will be at 7:30 p.m. at the old St. Andrew’s Church building at 22279 – 116th Avenue.

The sub-title of Luxton’s talk is “The Nisga’a Museum and an Odyssey of Repatriation in Northern British Columbia.”

The subject may come as a surprise to all who see Luxton as a specialist on the subject of heritage, in general, and historic buildings, in particular.

We in Maple Ridge owe a debt of gratitude to him for his work on producing the first inventory of Maple Ridge’s heritage resources on behalf of the Community Heritage Commission.

His book The Heritage Resources of Maple Ridge, published by the CHC in 1996 in conjunction with the District of Maple Ridge, is the enduring outcome of his work in Maple Ridge.

The book, accessible on the municipal web site, contains buildings, cityscapes, and trees perceived to have heritage value in each of the historic communities of Maple Ridge.

But Luxton’s vision and expertise is not limited to this kind of heritage.

Donald Luxton and Associates call themselves the foremost cultural and heritage firm in western Canada, and they took a leading role in the creation of a stunningly beautiful and unique museum for the Nisga’a Nation in the Nass Valley.

It was Luxton who assembled a team of experts to bid for the Nisga’a Museum project, and who for three years worked with the project team that saw the project through to its completion.

The Nisga’a Museum is a unique institution that is a direct result of the Nisga’a Treaty signed in 2000. This was the first time that First Nations cultural property was repatriated as part of the treaty process in British Columbia and a landmark event in Nisga’a history. The repatriation occurred on September 15, 2010, and the museum opened on May 11, 2011.

The Nisga’a Museum is a remarkable accomplishment – a stunning 10,000 square foot museum built in the remote Nass Valley to display 330 repatriated artifacts.

It was also conceived as the cultural heart and soul of the Nisga’a Nation, and as a living embodiment of the Nisga’a culture.

As Simon Calder, a Nisga’a youth representative, expressed it at the opening ceremony of the museum: “We need to embrace our culture. There is nothing better than this right here, seeing our people together, happy. There is no longer darkness above us, there is nothing but light now.”

Luxton’s illustrated talk will highlight the museum’s vision, architecture, artifacts and displays.

Fred Braches is a local historian who lives in Whonnock.

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