Indigenous perspective continues to be shared at B.C. Gold Rush historic town and park

Indigenous perspective continues to be shared at B.C. Gold Rush historic town and park
Indigenous perspective continues to be shared at B.C. Gold Rush historic town and park
Indigenous perspective continues to be shared at B.C. Gold Rush historic town and park
Indigenous perspective continues to be shared at B.C. Gold Rush historic town and park
Indigenous perspective continues to be shared at B.C. Gold Rush historic town and park

Education through tourism is proving to be an exciting venture for Cheryl Chapman and Mike Retasket who have returned to Barkerville once again to offer an original people’s perspective.

“I’m really happy that Barkerville has made room for us to create dialogue,” said Retasket. “I don’t know everything but I don’t know of another place that you can come and talk about First Nations people, and we’ve had so many great conversations right here and answered so many key questions and helped people and showed them ways that they can work toward our reconciliation as well.”

Chapman said over the years she was fortunate to learn about her family history in which her great grandmother’s family would help to bring goods and services to Barkerville. She passes that history along to visitors.

Together since 2007, Retasket was not always involved in the tourism industry prior to meeting Chapman. He said he had participated in numerous protests including the expansion of the Sun Peaks Resort where in 1999 he had dressed in full camouflage and shouted ‘no Olympics on stolen land.’

With Chapman, who was already involved with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC, by his side Retasket, however, discovered a new love for tourism and was front and centre at the Aboriginal pavilion in downtown Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics.

“Through that time what I found out about it’s so much more effective when you’re talking about the history of the First Nations people and there is a way to share that sad history of what happened without laying guilt, share, or blame,” he said.

“It’s so much more effective to do it that way because it becomes healing, and it becomes important work when people become engaged and really listen to what has happened.”

Read More: Barkerville set to re-open in phases

Chapman, who helped the Soda Creek Indian Band develop the Xat’sull Heritage Village in 1995/1996, said she told Retasket who was once Chief of the Bonaparte Indian Band that he had the opportunity to share his story and educate others instead of ‘standing on the outside and throwing rocks.’

“He went from ‘no Olympics on stolen land’ to ‘welcome to Canada,’” she said with a laugh. “I’m like ‘I don’t know what happened’ and he’s like ‘you happened to me.’”

Since last year, she and Retasket have been sharing their stories each day with visitors at Barkerville located approximately 86 kilometers east of Quesnel and 10 minutes outside of Wells.

Read More: B.C. museum releases more than 16,000 historical photos of Indigenous life

“None of us were really sure how it would work out,” Chapman said. “It was exciting to be provided the opportunity. All I’ve heard from people is ‘it’s about time.’”

Chapman is only at the site three days each week as she also works with the Soda Creek Indian Band.

Retasket meanwhile is there seven days a week and when not chatting with visitors keeps busy by playing a hand drum or flute and carving stick game sets and totems consisting of an eagle, bear and coyote. He said he learned totem carving from his brother who had attended the Kamloops Residential School where he had met other students from the Coast and underneath the steps would carve totems with a razor blade.

Read More: Barkerville writes a new page in its own history book

Prior to Barkerville accepting visitors, Retasketand Chapman broadcasted live online sessions from their backyard teepee at Deep Creek where they had reached 4,300 students from across the province. Chapman said she also had the opportunity to share her family’s story with the Girls Guides of the World in a one-day session.

Although COVID-19 has stopped them from passing around drums and artifacts to visitors, Chapman and Retasket said they did not think once about not coming back to Barkerville for the remaining 2020 season.

They both agree story telling and education is the key in moving forward from racism and ensuring a painful history of colonization, residential school and epidemics that killed many First Nations people including the majority of those at Bear Lake which was later named Bowron Lake is not repeated.

They hope to be able to continue telling and sharing their stories at Barkerville and that others will be able do the same in the future and join them.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

IndigenousTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in South Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Rotary Club of Williams Lake members, including president Mike Austin (second from left), cook up breakfasts during a Stampede breakfast this past summer. (Photo submitted)
ROTARY MONTH: Rotary Club of Williams Lake looking to get back to business

While COVID-19 made most of 2020 and the start of the new… Continue reading

Tribune columnist Jim Hilton captured this photo of the forest floor during a hike in the Helmken Falls area at Wells Gray Provinicial Park. (Jim Hilton photo)
FOREST INK: Forests and its connection to human health, part one

Urbanization and modern lifestyle have diminished possibilities for human contact with nature

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake physician part of COSMIC Medical group developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read