Premier Gordon Campbell announced a major contribution to the Haida Cultural Centre at Qay’llnagaay on Thursday, as he visited Skidegate and the islands for the first time, Jeff King writes.
“The province-the people of BC-will be contributing $4-million to ensure this centre remains a lasting legacy of Haida culture for British Columbians,” the Premier told an audience of about 150 people in the amphitheatre at the centre, the first time that room has ever been used.
The centre “Â…will be a bridge to take us forward that is firmly planted on the foundations of the past,” Mr. Campbell said, adding “this will be a place that touches the hearts of many over the years to come.”
The Premier talked about the new relationship his government is trying to build with native people, specifically pointing to a recent agreement regarding First Nations’ curriculum in schools and the signing last month in Old Massett of an agreement turning over parts of child care responsibility to the Haida.
“There are many things from the past that we must wish never happened,” he said, “(Let’s) put that past behind us and look for an even better future.”
“I feel real warm in my heart today to have the Premier come to our community and talk about partnership with the people of Skidegate,” Chief Councillor Willard Wilson said, “It’s history in the making and it makes me feel good. The Premier has just made an announcement that is making me ecstatic. I say ‘Howa Howa. Howa’.”
Mr. Campbell toured the facility and shook hands and introduced himself to almost everyone there, feasted on a lunch of salmon as only the Haida can prepare it,
then headed south in mid-afternoon. It’s the first time a Premier has visited the islands since the Socred’s Bill Vanderzalm spent a couple of days here in September 1986.
The $4-million is a one-time-only grant to be used for research, design and construction of cultural exhibits at the centre, which is expected to cost $26-million and to open next spring. It will bring about 130 jobs to Skidegate once it’s operational and lies at the heart of the Skidegate Band Council’s economic development strategy. The centre is expected to draw more than 10,000 visitors to the islands each year.
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