A new and improved Sto:lo interpretive centre opened Wednesday night with a little celebration on the Coqualeetza grounds.
“What we are looking at here is the result of our recent renovations of Our House of Long Ago and Today,” said Dave Schaepe, director of the Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre, and senior archeologist for Sto:lo Nation.
He was addressing guests at the opening celebration who were grazing appies, sipping wine, and circulating in the beautiful new space attached to the Sto:lo Gift Shop.
The new House of Long Ago and Today, will become the centrepiece of Sto:lo Nation’s interpretive and education programs, with a collection of objects displayed thematically through the seasons, with the 13 moons of the year.
“The centre is open to the public. It’s also part of our growth in tourism, working regionally to bring aboriginal tourism to the Fraser Valley and make us accessible to the community at large,” Schaepe said.
The tools, photos, clothing, art, and artifacts are meant to teach visitors, locals, and students, about Sto:lo life.
An antique dugout canoe carved by Billy Sepass of Skowkale, one of the prized pieces to be housed in the centre, is there in partnership with Chilliwack Museum and Archives.
“This is a one-of-a-kind, unique, and very historically important belonging, for the Sepass family in this case. This canoe is from 1913,” said Schaepe, adding it was built by Chief Sepass to as a teaching tool.
The Sepass canoe will be a “point of connection” for visitors today, and a way of teaching people about the Sto:lo ways.
The renovations were part of a Canada 150 Community Infrastructure grant of $171,200, that covered upgrades to the interpretive centre and educational long house, and display panels for the Coqualeetza Grounds.
The old centre was more than 20 years old was due for updating.
Sto:lo staff from Sto:lo Service Agency, Sto:lo Resource Centre and more planned the project collaboratively last year and capped off the work this year.
“This was a complete remodelling of our interpretive centre, its content, and represents a significant part of our work and outreach to the community,” said Schaepe.
The opening event coincided with Sto:lo Christmas Connect, bringing guests to the centre, along with the Sto:lo Gift Shop, Sto:lo Tourism and Sto:lo Business Association.