Stewards of heritage honoured in Port Alberni

Heritage commission recognizes landmark events during annual heritage award gala at Alberni Valley Museum.

University of Victoria visual anthropologist Dr. Andrea Walsh

The Alberni Heritage Commission celebrated Port Alberni’s history last week when it handed out nine major heritage awards. The annual gala was held at the Alberni Valley Museum among the Pirates exhibit.

“Heritage is a key community value,” Mayor Mike Ruttan told the 85 guests and award winners gathered. “If we don’t value it…if we don’t work to maintain our heritage, it’s difficult to know the direction we came from.

“It’s all the moving parts and all the parts that don’t move anymore,” he added. “It’s important we preserve it; it’s important we celebrate it.”

A unique presentation this year went to the steering committee for the We Are All One exhibit of residential school art. Each member of the steering committee, including artists, received individual awards as well as curator Dr. Andrea Walsh, visual anthropologist from the University of Victoria. Members were invited to speak before the ceremony resumed.

Steering committee members receiving their awards were: Jeffrey Cook, Gina Laing, Charles August and Dennis Thomas—each Alberni Indian Residential School survivors whose artwork was preserved and featured in the exhibition. Deborah Cook, Jack Cook and Wally Samuel were other AIRS survivors who were honoured for their outstanding contribution to documenting and presenting community heritage with the exhibit.

Walsh told the gathering the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa/ Gatineau will in 2017 tell the story of the return of the residential school paintings in its hallowed Canada Hall. The exhibit will remain up for 20 years.

Gayle Stephen-Player was honoured for finishing her term on the heritage commission. David Hooper was awarded the Ike Patterson Award by the late city councillor and columnist’s son Kris.

Larry Gavelin was recognized for the work he does in maintaining and developing the gardens at the Rollin Art Centre. The Community Arts Council of the Alberni Valley was honoured as it celebrated 50 years.

Rod Gledhill, a steam engineer who drives the No. 7 steam train on the Alberni Pacific Railway, was given an award recognizing his work in restoring the Two-Spot Shay locomotive.

Brad Berry of B. Berry Enterprises was honoured for preserving the historical environment at McLean Mill during the Kitsuksis Creek Fishway redevelopment.

The Alberni District Historical Society, which also celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, was recognized for its members’ outstanding dedication to preserving and presenting the heritage of the community.

Ian Sigvaldason was honoured in absentia for his contribution in documenting and presenting Canadian visual heritage with the exhibit Art for the Nation at the museum last year.

To vew our Facebook album of other winners, try the following link:

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