SUSAN QUINN PHOTO                                The City of Port Alberni will seek a tripartite partnership with the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations in a new funding model for the Alberni Valley Museum.

SUSAN QUINN PHOTO The City of Port Alberni will seek a tripartite partnership with the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations in a new funding model for the Alberni Valley Museum.

City of Port Alberni looks at museum partners

Tseshaht, Hupacasath could come on board

The comment “making bricks out of Jell-O” came up more than once during conversations around arts, culture and heritage at council chambers on Monday night.

But following this conversation, the city is now considering a tripartite agreement with the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations to run the Alberni Valley Museum.

Nene Kraneveldt first offered her arts, culture and heritage engagement summary report, presenting some opportunities for change that came out of the Speak Out engagement event in January. This document is now available on the city’s website.

Community Services director Theresa Kingston then brought forward her recommendations for an alternate governance model for the Alberni Valley Museum.

Kingston first expressed her personal opinion that a not-for-profit organization would not be a sustainable option for the museum.

“I think the whole not-for-profit sector in our community is in crisis and not sustainable,” she said. “Our community’s built on that foundation, the museum was built on that foundation. And so I think we really need to not bury our head in the sand on that.”

A second option looked at revenue generation models, especially forming a “Friends of” society and charging for admissions and memberships.

“I do believe that there’s a lot of people in this room who support the museum and support heritage, who would put their money where their mouth is, in terms of getting involved in fundraising activities, memberships, those types of things,” she said.

A third option, which came out of the engagement event, recommended forming a tripartite agreement with the Tseshaht and Hupacasath governments.

“This is probably the most revolutionary idea in this status report,” said Kingston. “It is one that I am recommending in terms of looking at government to government partnerships, a three-way government ownership of the museum.”

She stressed that the change in government would not mean throwing out part of the museum’s current collection, but would increase the focus on the history and culture in the community from an Aboriginal perspective.

“We know that First Nations tourism is extremely important in this community and nationally,” she said. “We know that a number of Nations are having artifacts returned, and it’s about building capacity. Granting and funding opportunities would increase by having multiple governments involved.”

She also added that this would provide the city with an opportunity for the meaningful negotiation and dialogue on reconciliation.

“We’ve had informal discussions [with Tseshaht and Hupacasath],” said Kingston. “The door is very much open to have these conversations.”

Councillor Chris Alemany said that option two and three were not exclusionary. “If we do option three with a tripartite we can still do a ‘Friends’ society and we can still have a revenue-generating ability through the people that are really engaged in the community,” he said.

Councillor Sharie Minions agreed that option three was “exciting” to see, but wanted to include the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District in the conversation.

“I feel like we should at least invite the regional district, Alberni Valley portion to be a part of the dicussion. Maybe it’s not in their purview to be an owner right now. But we should at least be conscious of the fact that it is the Alberni Valley Museum, and do we want to look at broader heritage in the community.”

City CAO Tim Pley made the comment, “If council is considering the tripartite model, that means partnership. I don’t believe that will be successful if we head down the path of tripartite and determine the model here tonight.

“If council desires a meaningful partnership with our First Nations neighbours, then that means committing to that and allowing those three entities together to determine what the model looks like,” he went on. “The potential outcome is significantly greater than the other options, but it is a longer path. And council shouldn’t tie the hands of the parties that try to build that by determining the model tonight.”

Council decided to follow the tripartite recommendation.