The Qualicum Beach Museum will be open on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The museum currently hosts an exhibit with materials from the Qualicum First Nation including a button blanket and vest from elder Og wil a (Bill) Recalma, as well as displays that educate on the history of residential schools on Vancouver Island.
Og wil a (Bill) Recalma is an intergenerational survivor of residential schools. He started his fishing career at the age of 12 and, now that he is retired, serves as an elder in the community. He also serves as a liaison to the board of directors of the Qualicum Beach Museum.
“The concepts of Truth and Reconciliation are kind of new to a lot of people,” said Kisselle Reid, the museum’s operations manager and curator of the Truth and Reconciliation exhibit. “I think lots of people don’t understand why we have them, or why we wear orange on the 30th. So we just wanted to bring those pieces of education to the public.”
This is the second year the museum has been open for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Reid said the components continue to grow. Reid joined the museum staff last year and this was one of the first projects she took on in her new role.
Visitors to the museum can learn from a timeline of the residential school system, which highlights places where schools were established on the Island such as Penelakut Island, Alert Bay and Port Alberni.
The exhibit also educates on how the concept of Truth and Reconciliation came about and what Canadians can do to acknowledge it.
“Being Qualicum First Nation myself, I felt it was important to highlight the fact that this isn’t something that happened in some far away place,” she said. “It was local and it happened here and it happened with our people.”
The underlying theme is how First Nations traditions survived the persecution by colonial authorities.
“It’s a reminder that despite all the atrocities that went on and all the effort that was made to take away culture and tradition, it didn’t happen,” Reid said.
The exhibit is on the second floor of the museum and close by is a permanent exhibit that looks at the story of the Pentlatch peoples, curated and designed by Jesse Recalma.
The Pentlatch language was considered to be lost when the last speaker died several decades ago, Reid said, but people are working to revitalize it and bring it back to the school systems.
“Lots of people like to ask questions and I encourage asking questions because it’s important to learn and there’s no sense in staying in the dark,” said Reid. “The museum is a safe place and we can accommodate questions.”
The Qualicum Beach Museum is located at 587 Beach Rd.
Starting in October, the museum will move to winter hours and be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Summer hours will begin in June.