Meares Island Cultural Centre to undergo modernizing upgrades

Opitsaht, BC

The Meares Island Cultural Centre will get some modernizing upgrades thanks to funding from the First Peoples’ Cultural Council.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation was awarded $400,000 from the FPCC as part of more than $5.4 million to support 16 projects that conserve, repair and develop First Nations heritage infrastructure in B.C.

The projects are made possible with funding from the Province of British Columbia’s 150 Time Immemorial Grant Program to the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation.

“The bulk of the money is going to be spent on improvements to the MICC,” said Jim Chisholm, tribal administrator with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. “It’s a bit of updating on the inside, [the MICC] is an older building, so improvements will involve updates to the interior.”

Chisholm said upgrades will help modernize the older building and will also include benches being installed along the walkway to the centre.

Chisholm said the MICC is primarily used by Opitsaht community members for meetings and gatherings.

“It’s not really designed for tourism…really the intent isn’t for tourism but more for the residents of Meares Island,” Chisholm said

According to a press release, the FPCC received 63 submissions in response to this funding opportunity and was able to fund 25 per cent of applicants. Funding is awarded by an external peer review process comprised of First Nations experts in Aboriginal heritage. The funds are managed by the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation and FPCC administers the grants and provides ongoing support to recipients for project management, work plans and knowledge transfer.

“This funding is vital to ensure Indigenous heritage in B.C. is protected for future generations,” said Karen Aird, FPCC heritage program manager in a press release. “This investment enables First Nations communities to lead work to safeguard their cultural spaces and heritage collections, and demonstrates the urgent need for long-term, sustainable funding to protect First Nations heritage.”

The projects are part of the FPCC Heritage Infrastructure Program supporting First Nations communities in their work to safeguard and celebrate their heritage. Projects receive two-year funding to conserve structures and heritage sites, with work to be completed by February 2024. The project proposals reveal the ways that heritage and culture are intertwined in every part of Indigenous life and speak to the significance of how these spaces are used and shared.

“The B.C. Government is committed to working with Indigenous peoples on a path towards lasting reconciliation,” said Nathan Cullen, minister of Municipal Affairs in the release. “Supporting projects that contribute to First Nations communities as they work to secure their cultural and other significant spaces, is one way the province is contributing to that much broader and critical goal.”

Funded projects range from new initiatives, to upgrades and improvements to existing spaces. Examples of current projects include museum construction, cemetery restoration and trail upgrades to access important cultural areas.

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