Northern Secwepemc Cultural Society














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Kerry Chelsea—President
Irene Gilbert—Vice President
Harold Duncan—Treasurer
Graham Leslie—Secretary
Laurie Ilnicki—Director
Sheri Sellars—Director


P.O. Box 553
108 Mile Ranch, B.C.
V0K 2Z0

Tel: 250.791.7267


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 from site to highway and Heritage Site

The aim of the Northern Secwepemc Cultural Society (NSCS) and of its predecessor Informal Working Group was from the outset to construct a cultural centre and museum somewhere within the traditional territories of its five constituent Bands.

The project was sparked initially by an invitation in 2003 from the Board of Directors of the 100 Mile House & District Historical Society and its offer to lease a two-acre parcel of its land bordering the 108 Mile Lake in the South Cariboo, and because that site found favour with the Bands, all of the preliminary work relating to the project was, until May 2013, focused on that site.

To that end an Informal Working Group was formed in early 2004 comprising representatives of the Historical Society and three of the five Bands. During the following two years, the Group obtained financial contributions from the three Bands as well as a small grant from the Cariboo Regional District, enabling the Group to carry out a topographic survey of the site by Cariboo Geographics Ltd. as well as an archaeological impact assessment by Terra Archaeology Limited that uncovered evidence of the Canim Lake Band’s occupation as a summer fishing site stretching back 2,000 years.

In July 2006, the Northern Secwepemc Cultural Society (NSCS) was incorporated as a charitable not for profit society with its membership comprising two representatives from each of the five Northern Secwepemc Bands as well as two from the Historical Society. Shortly afterwards, its bylaws were amended to leave the 10 Band representatives as the only voting members, while the Historical Society’s two representatives became non-voting members.

The new Society succeeded in raising a substantial amount of grant money from the Northern Development Initiative Trust, Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage which, when added to the financial contributions of the five member Bands, financed a thorough study into the feasibility of proceeding with the project, conducted by the Vancouver architectural firm of Busby Perkins + Will between May 2007 and July 2009.

Receipt of the Busby Perkins’ final report almost precisely coincided with the financial crash of 2008, and in the economic climate that followed, its architectural proposals seemed far too ambitious and far too expensive to pursue. As a result the Society thereupon scaled down the scope of the project substantially.

Starting in 2009, the Society, with generous financial support from its five constituent Bands and from the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, assembled another parcel of land in order to provide parking and septic disposal for the proposed Centre. The next three years saw a pause in the progress of the project on account of the world financial situation, but by 2013 the situation in Canada had improved substantially, and Federal Government funding once again became available, enabling progress towards the Society’s ultimate goal to start moving ahead at a steady pace.

In May 2013, the Historical Society had laid down conditions for a lease of its land that were considered to be impossibly onerous, and the Society abandoned its hope of building on the 108 Heritage Site.

Most fortunately, however, the separate 1.05 hectare parcel of land in close proximity to the 108 Mile Lake that had already been assembled in order to meet the parking and septic disposal requirements of the government authorities, was confirmed to be of sufficient size also accommodate a modest-sized building of the kind the Society has been contemplating since 2009, and negotiations commenced with the Cariboo Regional District to transfer title to that body in return for a 99-year lease at the nominal annual fee of one dollar.

The advantages of both sites include the fact that neither is on the reserve lands of any one particular Band, and they are approximately equidistant from the reserves of all five Bands. In addition, the Historical Society’s existing heritage buildings and the neighbouring B.C. Government Rest Area already attract thousands of visitors each year during the period from mid-May to mid-September.

In the summer of 2013, the Society commissioned McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd. to produce a schematic design, provisional construction costing and an imaging package which was submitted to the NSCS in December 2013, enthusiastically approved by its members, and then submitted to the five constituent Band Councils which received it with equal enthusiasm.

In July 2014, the Society approved a Business Plan that was prepared by Cadence Strategies and financed by a grant from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada That same year a positive Environmental Site Assessment was carried out by North West Environmental Group Ltd., and the 99-year lease agreement with the Cariboo Regional District was executed.

In 2015, the Society was able to commission McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd. to prepare a Design Development Report which was submitted to the Society in April 2016 and approved by the membership soon afterwards.

In 2017, the combination of financial contributions by its member Bands and a grant from the BC Rural Dividend Program enabled the Society to commission McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd. to prepare the Construction Documents required for the Society to go to tender, as well as an updated budget. That report was received in February 2018.

In the meantime the Society had applied for a second grant from the BC Rural Dividend Program in order to make a start to the process of identifying the stories, artifacts and programs that its member Bands wish to exhibit in the Society’s new Centre. With financial contributions from its five member Bands, that application was successful, and in mid-2018 the renowned exhibit design consulting firm of D. Jensen & Associates started the work of producing a Roadmap for the exhibit design process. The David Jensen team held two series of meetings with each of the Society’s constituent Bands in 2018, and and delivered its draft final report at separate meetings with each of the five Bands in April 2019.

The Society at this point in time is ready to undertake a search for the funding required to construct its proposed Centre and to cover the annual operating deficit that was identified in its 2014 Business Plan. 2019 will be occupied in the search for funding, but will also include the updating of the business plan in light of various factors that may have impacted its underlying assumptions. Attention will also be devoted to identifying individuals within the Society’s five member Bands who are interested in being considered eventually for the position of Cultural Centre Director. Senior staff at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology have most generously offered to assist with the training of any such individuals.

This account has passed over the exciting work that led to the construction of a beautiful cedar bridge connecting the site of the proposed Centre and the B.C. Government Rest Area at the 108 Mile Lake. A full account of this can be found elsewhere on this website on the page entitled The Bridge, and includes an expression of our sincere thanks to those many local businesses that so generously contributed to its cost.



P.O. Box 553     •    108 Mile Ranch     •     B.C. V0K 2Z0     •     Tel: 250.791.7267

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