A new project for the Mayne Island Agricultural Society is moving forward thanks to a boost from the Heritage Legacy Fund.
The Society has been working with local Tsartlip elders to develop outdoor interpretive panels and to create a new exhibit at the Mayne Island Museum that recognizes and interprets traditional Tsartlip heritage on the island.
Jennifer Iredale, a retired historian volunteering with the Agricultural Society, said that “we’ve got people who are willing to put some time in effort into this project in order to honour the First Nations on whose traditional territory we get to live, work and play… For this project, I knew that the grant was coming. We moved forward with the application and heard that we were successful.”
The Heritage Fund is managed by Heritage B.C. This is the first year that a grant was available for First Nations partnership projects. The fund donated $7,500 to the project, which was matched by the Agricultural Society.
“We feel very lucky to be one of the recipients,” Iredale said. “With that little bit of money we are able to appropriately recompense the elders that will be working with us from the Tsartlip.”
The money will go towards revitalizing the existing First Nations exhibit. Currently, the exhibit has some archaeological artifacts, but not much is known about them.
“We have already discovered quite a bit more information about them by working with Dr. John Elliott of the Tsartlip,” she said. “We’re looking forward to adding that to that exhibit.”
Some of the grant will also go towards the creation of interpretive plaques on the island giving more information about First Nations and indigenous history on Mayne. The Agricultural Society will be working with the Tsartlip to determine the content of the outdoor signage and putting SENĆOŦEN names on the artifacts found on the island.
“We’re all interested in building this relationship so that is has succession going forward,” Iredale said. “We want to get some younger people from Mayne Island involved and [Elliott is] looking at how to get some younger Tsartlip in the relationship.”
The project will continue over the course of the next year. Public presentations are in the works about local indigenous history and information sharing.
Iredale is optimistic about the project, hoping that the sharing of stories and information helps create a stronger partnership going forward.
“There is so much about how the place came to be, and the natural history of the islands. They are so deeply rooted in this place, so much more than the last 100 years of settler history,” she said. “We’re hoping that as this project moves forward that there will be some other projects that grow out of it.”