QUESNEL, B.C. – The Quesnel and District Museum and Heritage Commission took part in a 1 ½-day workshop this week to talk about the future of the museum building, the programming it offers and accomplishing longer-term goals.
Brian Laurie-Beaumont, a senior planning advisor with the Canadian Conservation Institute, from the Department of Canadian Heritage, moderated more than 12 hours of discussion Monday and Tuesday among representatives from the City of Quesnel, First Nations Kluskus Band, museum staff, volunteers and Commission members.
Lorna Townsend, chair of the Commission, said the planning workshop was a good first step towards improving the facilities. It’s needed to meet the expectations of today’s local and tourist audiences, who are demanding a deeper level of historical interpretation, and programs and displays that both educate and entertain.
She said telling the stories of the North Cariboo with an overall theme of cultural cohesion, or one that showcases our First Nations, Indo- Canadian, Asian, and Euro-Canadian histories was discussed as one way of achieving those goals. The role of geography, including our strategic location at the confluence of the Quesnel and Fraser Rivers, and our natural forest resources, could also be incorporated into that story-line, which would allow us to also present the history of the forest industry and our unique Paddlewheeler past. The utilization of modern technology to make the public’s museum experience more interactive is also vital to the museum’s long-term success.
“We’re looking at diversifying the museum, having it tell the stories of the whole community,” she explained. “The next step is to bring in even more stakeholders, tell the public these are the discussions we’re having, and seek their support so that we can move forward.”
Ruth Stubbs, Museum Curator, said the facility is filled to the brim, adding there needs to be a plan developed that would see the facility spark more interest from passing visitors as well as residents.
“What can we do, what can we offer that is unique to the area?” she said. “The museum should be a cultural centre for the community.”
Rosa Chantyman represented the Kluskus Band at the meetings. She said Chief Liliane Squinas asked her to take part in the discussion, as local First Nations communities need more representation and a venue to tell their history.
Mary Sjostrom, City Council’s liaison to the Commission, said we have a great facility, but there’s always room for improvement. She welcomes change to the existing structure, perhaps allowing for more of a storyline to the museum and more breathing room.
“Brian Laurie-Beaumont provided great direction,” she said. “Our Commission will certainly be able to assist Council with the future direction of the museum.”