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Powell River Historical Museum and Archives Association decides to change its name

At a special general meeting of the membership of the museum and archives, there was just one dissenting vote for renaming.
RECONCILIATION INITIATIVE: At a special meeting, Powell River Historical Museum and Archives members voted to change the name to qathet Museum and Archives. The initiative had the blessing of Tla’amin Nation.

Powell River Historical Museum and Archives Association will now be known as qathet Museum and Archives Society.

At a special general meeting of the membership of the museum and archives, held online March 31, there was just one dissenting vote for changing the name. According to museum president Bill Vernon, the requirement was for two-thirds of the membership to be in favour of the motion to change the name.

Museum director Claudia Westland said when Canada woke up to the harsh reality of the discovery of the unmarked burial sites of 215 children at a residential school in Kamloops, it was the beginning of “more horrible discoveries.”

“Many people were shocked and people did start to think differently about being Canadian,” said Westland. “The Powell River museum board was deeply moved to feel and think differently about doing a better job of fulfilling our mandate as a museum. We began to fully understand that as protectors and keepers of the historical record, we are the agency that is accountable to society for preserving and representing the history of this region.

“We understood, also, that we were facing a very timely opportunity to improve relationships with First Nations in the spirit of reconciliation through a simple act of a name change initiative.”

She said it would signal the museum’s intention to represent the stories of the region from a more respectful and inclusive perspective.

Westland said all that was required was two-thirds support from the society’s membership but the board wanted to ensure there was support from the community before a name change was undertaken. She said a community input process was developed.

Museum director Rita Rasmussen said after the invitation for public input was completed, it was overwhelmingly positive.

“Having that, we felt very confident that the community had been made aware of the name change process and had indicated support,” said Rasmussen.

Tla’amin Nation hegus John Hackett said at the last Tla’amin executive council meeting, the membership voted unanimously in favour.

“We agreed with qathet,” said Hackett, “which means working together.”

Vernon said he was proud of the effort put into letting the community know about the proposed name change.

Because the special meeting was held online, Vernon read through the list of names of museum association members, who provided their vote, for or against. After holding the vote, Vernon said the requirement was 66 per cent of the membership in favour of changing the name and there was one no vote.

“It’s pretty safe to say we now have a new name for the museum,” said Vernon. “I want to say how proud I am to be part of this process and to be a part of this group. This has been a long, difficult journey for a lot of us. I thank the members for moving this along.

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