The Qay’llnagaay Heritage Centre will open to the public in the spring of 2007, complete with exhibits in all galleries, members of the QCI Chamber of Commerce heard at their annual general meeting Saturday in Tlell.
Heritage Centre Society CEO Robert Dudoward made a presentation to the chamber, telling members that construction of the complex will finish this spring, that most components are already built, and the focus now is on finishing the interior, while at the same time the exhibits and displays are being fabricated.
Overall, the $26-million plus complex includes the Welcome Centre, the Haida Gwaii Museum, the Bill Reid Teaching Centre, a carving shed, and an administration building.
Mr. Dudoward described each in turn. He said the soon-to-be-built Welcome Centre will be a magnificent structure with a glass roof. It will house a performance space, a restaurant, classrooms and a gift shop. “Art in general is going to be the genre of that building,” he said, “we are going to support the arts in any way we can.”
The Bill Reid Teaching Centre will be a hallmark attraction, and include a wood studio, and other specialized studio spaces for silver and argillite among others, as well as a forge. “I get a sense from it that it (this centre) is going to contribute immensely,” Mr. Dudoward said.
He also said the Haida Gwaii Museum will more than double in size, to 15,000 square feet from 6,500, while its public space will increase to just under 10,000 square feet from the current 2,800. Several totem poles will be raised in the new gallery, and Haida history and culture exhibits will be added.
The carving shed will be a “big, wide-open space” Mr. Dudoward told chamber members, allowing artisans to create poles and canoes “if we find the wood for them.” It will allow people to easily see the carvers working, and will be an opportunity for one and all to learn.
The program management centre will include administration offices for several groups, including Parks Canada, Gwaii Haanas, the Archipelago Management Board and the centre itself.
Mr. Dudoward said the idea behind the complex is to create employment, since the forestry and fishing are no longer creating many jobs.
“The people of Skidegate have endeavoured to create employment in a dramatic and different way than in the past, ” he said, “somebody has to go out and do the work to create an industry on these islands. The people of Skidegate will do that.”
He also said cooperation is needed with all islanders, and that the benefits will be for all as well.
“We all have to work together to create what we hope will be a thriving, sustainable industry,” Mr. Dudoward said,”our vision is that this is an islands-wide initiative. Working together we can create employment not only in our community but in every community.”
“We are looking for partners. We are looking to create success,” he said.
The building is now budgeted at $26-million plus, which includes about $6-million for exhibits, and Mr. Dudoward said all the needed money has been lined up.
The society is also planning to raise money for an endowment fund, and has just appointed Myles Richardson to head up that strategy.
The building will be heated geo-thermally, and have a ‘green’ roof, covered with indigenous vegetation to reduce energy costs.
It’s expected the centre will employ about 40 people once it’s open, while Parks Canada will employ 41 more in its building, also on the site.