Irene Gilbert President
NORTHERN SECWEPEMC CULTURAL SOCIETY
P.O. Box 553
Xat'sull / Soda Creek
Esketemc First Nation
The purposes of the Society are:
- to gather and preserve information, records and objects of educational, historical and cultural value associated with the participating Indian Bands, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing.
- to establish and maintain a museum for the purpose of preserving, recording and exhibiting such materials for the education and enjoyment of the general public and for the general benefit of the members of the participating Indian Bands.
The story so far:
From early 2004 until May 2013, the five Northern Shuswap Indian Bands from Canim Lake, Canoe Creek, Soda Creek and Williams Lake and the Esketemc First Nation, worked in cooperation with the 100 Mile House & District Historical Society towards the goal of building a First Nations museum and cultural centre on a parcel of land owned by the Historical Society at the 108 Mile Lake. In May 2013 it became clear that it would be impossible to reach an agreement on the terms of a lease, and the five Bands – incorporated in July 2006 as the Northern Secwepemc Cultural Society – have since developed plans to build on an adjacent two-acre site that they had been assembling for related purposes.
A topographic survey of the new parcel has now been completed, and on December 12, 2013 the Vancouver firm of McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd. submitted its final report containing a schematic design and detailed construction budget which, together with a recently completed business plan, will permit major decisions to be made in the near future about moving forward with financing and construction of the project.
The business plan forecasts an annual operating deficit for the proposed centre, and at the end of 2014 two of the five member Bands have already approved a request for a 5-year commitment to shoulder their shares of the deficit. The other three Bands plan to consider our request early in 2015.
Meanwhile, on October 14, 2014, a two-year effort to prepare the alternate building site culminated in the execution of a 99-year lease agreement between the Society and the Cariboo Regional District. The event was marked by a simple ceremony that attracted widespread media publicity in the region, and is described in more detail on this page.
The path ahead:
Approval of our funding request by all five Bands will pave the way for the Society to approach the two senior levels of government and the private sector for the funds to carry out construction of the centre.
We are hopeful that the Northern Development Initiative Trust which has supported our project since 2005, will provide the initial $250,000 of what is estimated to be a $3.3 million overall budget. The formal application for that grant will be made in late 2015, and the earlier part of that year will be devoted to acquiring the balance from other sources.
In the immediate short term, we are soliciting $240,000 of the budgeted figure from the major corporations doing business in the South and Central Cariboo, in the hope that it will permit our architects to commence work on design development and the construction documents.
If we succeed with both fundraising efforts, we expect to be "shovel-ready" to proceed by the end of 2015, thus making it feasible for construction to begin in early 2016 and to be completed in time to open the new facility in May 2017.
LEASE AGREEMENT - October 14, 2014
On the bright sunny morning of October 14th, a simple ceremony was conducted on the site of the proposed cultural centre and museum.
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Our opportunity to express our thanks very publicly to numerous individuals and groups that have supported our Society throughout the past almost 11 years, all of whom have helped us reach the important milestone we are celebrating today.
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View of the site, looking south along Highway 97.