Blue skies on a crisp fall day made a perfect backdrop for the grand opening of the Beaver Creek Legacy Arbour on Sunday.
The timber alcove, located within the provincial park’s Kiwanis Beaver Creek campground, is a tangible landmark meant to recognize the community and First Nations participation in, and connection to, the Waneta Expansion Project.
Audrey Repin, Indigenous and Community Relations Lead for Columbia Power Corporation, shared the meaning behind the arbour with the crowd.
“This is our commitment from the Waneta Expansion Project,” she began. “Our commitment was that we would leave a legacy of community in this arbour.”
Repin described two panels that were unveiled during the opening. Inset within the structure are two very beautiful and unique pieces of Indigenous art.
One panel was created by the Ktunaxa Nation and the other by Spirit Peoples, an artist from the Sylix/Okanagan Nation. Peoples was in attendance with his family to share his creation during the event.
“We see this as the beginning of many, many more opportunities for cultural sharing experiences, opportunities for Nations to put up panels to share with all communities about the culture and the history of this place,” Repin shared.
“So I am really pleased that everybody is here today to share in culture, to share in song, and to share in spirit with us to bring spirit back to this land of unceded traditional territories of First Nations people.”
Representatives from the Sinixt, Ktunaxa, the Syilx/Okanagan, and the Secwepmepc Nations – including the Splatsin Tribe from the southern Shuswap Nation – joined local leaders and community members for the event.
Director Ali Grieve attended on behalf of Area A of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and as a member of Métis Nation of British Columbia Kootenay South Division.
Also in attendance to represent Columbia Power were board member John Stevens, and Brandon Haney, executive director.
In its application to the Provincial Environmental Assessment Office, Columbia Power proposed to construct a legacy project as one of the socio-economic benefits to the community.
The intent was to construct a landmark that was in close proximity to the dam that would honour the history of the area, including First Nations, other people and communities, as well as the Waneta Expansion Project.
The design was built on the concept of arbors used to support community gatherings by the Ktunaxa Nation.
Located immediately downstream of the Waneta Dam on the Pend D’Oreille River, the Waneta Expansion adds a second powerhouse that shares the existing hydraulic head, generating clean and renewable power from water that would otherwise be spilled.