The Alberni Valley Heritage Commission celebrated its history-keepers with the annual heritage awards presentation at the Alberni Valley Museum on Dec. 5.
Port Alberni’s newly elected mayor Sharie Minions said Port Alberni is lucky to have the people who continue to keep heritage in the forefront in the community.
Early in her term as a city councillor, she was part of a conversation with Tseshaht First Nation, where the subjects of history and culture were front and centre. “A comment was made about how so much of their history is passed down through stories from elders, and that they’re trying to document those stories; because if the elders are lost, a lot of the history could be lost with them,” Minions said.
“That was a very important moment for me in realizing how fortunate we are to have such a well-documented history in this community. It’s easy to forget and easy to take for granted,” she added.
“Port Alberni has some unique heritage facilities and resources,” said Gareth Flostrand from the heritage commission, who was MCing the event. “They’re very unique for us and we need to keep them all viable.”
The Ike Patterson Award went to Hugh Grist, a founding member of the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society and one of the group of people who initiated the restoration of the Two-Spot steam locomotive and the Port Alberni Train Station. Grist served for many years as treasurer of the society and remains active with the IHS.
He is also a founding member of the Alberni Valley Community Foundation, Flostrand noted.
The award was presented by Kris Patterson, son of the late Ike Patterson.
Marlene Dietrich was honoured with a community heritage award for her outstanding dedication and volunteer contribution to the community archives, “furthering the preservation of and access to community heritage,” Flostrand noted.
“Marlene has been a longtime member of the Alberni District Historical Society, serving on the executive in many capacities.”
Dietrich was not able to make the heritage awards night, so she received her award at a special luncheon put on at the archives in her honour.
Heritage commission member and volunteer with the Industrial Heritage Society Bert Simpson was recognized for the work he has done for both organizations.
Robert Gunn and Chris Doman, both well-known artists in the Alberni Valley, were each given a community heritage award in appreciation for their efforts to raise awareness of community arts and culture. Gunn and Doman organized a unique exhibit at the AV Museum last year, entitled My Place—A Personal View.
The juried art show attracted submissions from all around Vancouver Island, and had a successful run at the museum last year.
The pair are working on another art exhibit that this time they hope will attract international artists.
Both Gunn and Doman said following the awards presentation that they would like to make this a biennial event.
Carrie Smith has spent 20 years volunteering with the museum education program, presenting core school programs as well as special programs at the train station, maritime discovery centre and McLean Mill. She has worked on the annual heritage fair and myriad special events at the museum. Last week she was honoured for fostering the importance of community heritage and education.
Corporate awards were presented to the Alberni Valley News, in recognition for outstanding contribution and support in the commercial sector in raising awareness of community history and heritage; and the Port Alberni Port Authority, for their outstanding support and contribution to furthering the preservation of community and maritime heritage.