One of the Cariboo’s darkest moments in history is now part of a permanent exhibit at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake.
An exhibit on the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School opened this week.
“We started planning this exhibit about a year ago,” said Museum coordinator Joe Borsato.
“We acquired funding and were fortunate to have funding from the Heritage Legacy Fund of British Columbia and the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society who are funded through the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District, so really fortunate to have that support. We started the project by planning out what we wanted to do, what narrative and narratives we wanted to represent in the exhibit.”
Calling it a long process, Borsato said they consulted with well over a dozen community members and survivors from the Mission.
“Their stories are represented in the exhibit and their stories are in our archive as well,” he said.
“It was a very involved project and has taken a lot of time and effort to put it all together.”
The exhibit features photographs, three-dimensional wall objects, and books either about the Mission or from the Mission, as well as a branding iron from the Mission ranch which Borsato said was established as an extra revenue stream for the Mission by the Oblates.
“The stories often are not positive,” Borsato said.
“A lot of it is very dark material but it’s still a complex topic and it needs to be represented in the Museum if we are to represent our community’s history.”
The St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School operated from 1891 to 1981.