Museum captures oral histories of the valley

Sonja explores two grant-funded projects taking place in Smithers until March 2022

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

A true story about our community is evolving right now.

The Bulkley Valley Museum has a New Horizons grant for oral history and is using it with seniors interviewing seniors.

There is also separate funding to have an oral history intern on staff for five months. Ryan McKenney, from Prince George, was brought in as the intern for these projects and he has been capturing stories through conversation, all done within the safe protocols of COVID-19 and with most being held at the Old Church.

Ryan graduated from UNBC in 2017 with a history degree and went on to work on a historic site, the Hubble Homestead, an old farm house from 1912, 30 km north of Prince George, taking tourists around and in the winter providing an educational program.

He has also been a research assistant in Tokyo, gathering information about Japanese people who immigrated to South America.

Although Ryan came to Smithers in early November 2020, the first part of the program stalled because recording hardware didn’t come in until later in January. The grant for the senior-to-senior project is good until March 2022 and Ryan’s oral history is only until March 2021.

“The senior’s will hopefully begin “in the spring or summer,” said Kira Westby, museum curator.

The oral history interviews are well underway and Kira is delighted with the interviews done to date with “current and former local politicians, as well as teachers, lawyers, artists, activists and homemakers to name a few.” And she went on to say that they represent a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, experiences and length of time in the valley.

While he is in the valley Ryan has worked with a SSS class to introduce the students to oral history: how and why it is important work for historians.

My daughter and I often ponder the meaning of a word. Our latest is discipline.

The first meaning Google turns up is: a punishment to correct disobedience.

We like their second meaning much better: a branch or knowledge, typically one studied in higher education.

She is a music teacher so proficiency to her is a discipline. I was considering being a daycare worker when my kids were little and I took a child psychology course and it was all about logical consequences.

With COVID-19 it is harder and harder to stick with the protocols but the logical consequence is daunting if we don’t use discipline combined with the knowledge we have and it flourishes.

I am looking forward to the oral history of our valley. It’ll be intriguing!

Email Sonja.lester.b.c@gmail.com or call 250-847-4414 to share an item.

Oral and digital history is the new normal but it’ll still be good to get it in a hard copy.

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