Four community groups received awards for contributing to the preservation of heritage within Ladysmith at the third annual Heritage Award ceremony on Feb. 27.
The event was hosted at the end of BC heritage Week and the awards process was spearheaded by the Ladysmith & District Historical Society (LDHS), with invitation to the Town of Ladysmith and the Stz’uminus First Nation to participate in the ceremony.
Awardees were chosen by an LDHS committee from nominations received from the community.
The Young Wolves Dance Group received an award for promoting and preserving heritage of the Stz’uminus First Nation and sharing it with the Ladysmith community. The group, which consists of young Stz’uminus performers, is led by Clinton Charlie. Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris presented him with the award virtually through Zoom.
“I just want to say how proud I am of Clinton and his dream and wanting to uplift our children and make sure that our culture and language is being kept alive,” she said. “Every time they are doing the dances and singing songs and using the language, I know our elders are beaming with pride and our whole nation is actually beaming with pride.”
The Ladysmith Maritime Society received recognition for the production of ten videos which outline history of the society’s collection of restored heritage boats. Mayor Aaron Stone presented the award.
“The beauty of the vessels, the engineering, all of that is really interesting but it’s the story behind those artifacts that really give the depth and the meaning to their place in the history of British Columbia,” Stone said. “And how they, in their own small way — depending on the size of the boat and the role that it played — are another voice back to the past.”
The Ladysmith and District Credit Union received an award for its new Wall of History mural, which illustrates the long-time and continuing connection between the Credit Union and Ladysmith community. The mural was painted by local artist Kathy Oliver.
Chief Harris presented the award to John de Leeuw, chief executive officer of the Credit Union.
“It’s something we can show our children and go up to each part of it and then we can talk about the Tour de Rock, LAFF, the grads, the show and shine, the fireworks and what that means and the tree at Light up and the significance of that,” she said.
Mayor Stone presented an award to Bill Verchere and family for the multigenerational preservation of 641 Third Ave (the Coburn/Verchere house and gardens), which together are significant original elements of Ladysmith’s built heritage.
“I want to congratulate all of the nominees and winners,” said Melanie Mark, B.C.’s minister of tourism, art, culture and sport. “I’m so happy to be here and be a part of this celebration — events like these shine a light on multiculturalism in all parts of B.C. and preserving our true history is very close to my heart. I commend you for recognizing all voices and telling their stories — it’s an important part of making our shared history part of modern society.”
She said heritage societies around the province have answered the call to action for reconciliation by protecting and promoting Indigenous cultures and languages.
“Heritage is that which is inherited from past generations, maintained by the present and bestowed to future generations,” said Quentin Goodbody, LDHS president. “Our heritage includes natural features, such as landscapes, resources, animals and plants that we live on and with.”
He said both tangible artifacts, such as books, pictures and machinery, and intangible elements, such as language, philosophy and value systems are important to a community’s heritage.
“Ladysmith’s uniqueness and attraction lies in large part with its heritage character — in order to balance inevitable redevelopment with retention of heritage assets and heritage character, we need coordinated forward planning,” he said. “I will be working with the society to try and promote and facilitate preservation of heritage buildings around town because I think they are extremely important and I think we are on the cusp of either losing a lot or saving them. We have to act now.”