New chair for Haida Heritage Society

  • Dec. 17, 2008 6:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay–The Haida Heritage Society has a new chair and a new direction as of its recent annual general meeting. At the meeting, which was held on Nov. 20 at the Haida Heritage Centre, Skidegate Band Chief Councillor Willard Wilson stepped down from his position as chair of the society’s board and Miles Richardson took his place. Mr. Richardson had been the chief executive officer of the Heritage Centre, but left to become the unpaid chair of the society’s board. Mr. Richardson says his role over the next year is to oversee the separation of the Heritage Centre operations from the band council. “My task is to effect an operating separation from the band council,” he said December 12 in a telephone interview with the Observer. He said the $26-million centre has a $1.9 million debt from the construction phase, which the band council is carrying. “The challenge is to retire that before a full operations separation can be effected,” he said. “In today’s economic climate, that’s going to be a significant challenge,” he said. He said the Heritage Centre is not alone in this situation. “Across BC construction costs have skyrocketed,” he said, pointing to cost overruns for the Olympics, the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre and more. On a positive note, he said the Northern Development Initiative has recently contributed $1.5 million toward building new exhibits in the centre. “Those will be planned and installed over the winter and spring,” he said. He is pleased by this show of support from neighbouring communities through the NDI Trust. He said it shows people understand how important it is to build a shared tourism industry across the north. Mr. Richardson says the centre will continue to develop its operating plan throughout the next year with the help of a paid advisor Mike Robinson. Mr. Robinson, formerly CEO of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, has recently been hired as the executive director of the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver. Mr. Richardson says this is an important connection between the two facilities. As well, Mr. Richardson says the gift shop and restaurant will evolve over the coming months, as will future training opportunities through the Bill Reid teaching centre. On the board of the Haida Heritage Society are: Skidegate Band Councillors James Cowpar, Remi Levesque and Tanu Luisignan, along with Chris Collison, president of the Haida Gwaii Museum board and Monique Brown.

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