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SRD gets grant to help with salvaging community and culturally sensitive artifacts

Money to be used to offer course on sacred cultural item salvage
A totem pole carved by Max Chickite looks out to the shores of Quadra Island on Sept. 13, 2020. – Campbell River Mirror

Over $250,000 has been granted to the Strathcona Regional District to help with Indigenous cultural safety training.

The funding will be going to assist with a training program about salvaging community and culturally sensitive artifacts after disasters. The $254,000 was awarded by the province through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF).

Facilitated by professionals from the B.C. Heritage and Emergency Response Network (BCHERN), five workshops will be offered to First Nations throughout Vancouver Island providing the hands-on skills necessary to salvage community and generational artifacts after a flood or fire.

The goals of the workshops are to

- Train a new group of First Nations responders as a ‘sacred cultural item salvage strike team’.

- Nurture a new skill that can be brought into a local government Emergency Operation Centre to help teams work better with First Nations to ensure that the salvage of belongings after a disaster is conducted in a culturally sensitive manner.

- Provide guidance to BCHERN with developing Sacred Belongings Preventative and Response emergency salvage guidance documents for baskets, masks, carvings, drums, feathers, regalia, and other items of cultural significance.

“This grant was made possible through our partnerships with five First Nations, four Villages and the Comox Valley Regional District” said SRD Chair Mark Baker. “It will support Truth and Reconciliation initiatives throughout and beyond the SRD. These workshops will encourage emergency response personnel and public safety volunteers to explore their own roles in supporting the revival of the values that worked so beautifully in Indigenous villages for thousands of years.”

First Nations attendees will share their knowledge and educate Disaster Recovery Staff from the Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Ministry on how to identify the recovery gaps for culturally sensitive items.

Currently, the Disaster Financial Assistance process does not properly account for or consider the sacred value of culturally important belongings to First Nations. Our path forward involves coming together to create the pathway towards a more efficient recovery of culturally important items after a disaster.

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