Coming together requires a community and a space.
Nazko already had the community, but the space had fallen behind. Thanks to a significant grant from the First Peoples’ Cultural Council Heritage Infrastructure Program, that gathering place has been upgraded to modern standards.
“We have one place that we gather. That’s all we have. Our space is our hall. We do weddings, we do funerals, we do meetings, everything is done there,” said Nazko First Nation chief Leah Stump, indicating the decades-old Nazko Community Hall.
“It’s been there since 1972 and my dad was one of the ones who helped build it,” Stump said. Now she gets to see new life infused into the rustic log structure. The $247,757 grant made it possible to build off of the work done to establish the hall in the first place. “(It) has been holding the spirit of the ones gone before us and all the activities that were held here. Just because it is old doesn’t mean that we have to throw it away. It belongs here.”
Stump added that the main superstructure of the building was fine, but some key elements inside desperately needed upgrades. The top of the list was addressing the old, always inadequate wood furnace.
“In the winter, when it’s -40C, it takes about three days to heat the building. It’s a big task to have somebody look after getting the hall ready. Now we have a new heating system,” she said.
Also part of the upgrades were an expansion of the bathroom facilities, significant upgrades to the kitchen, and adding an outdoor fire pit for au naturale gatherings.
Karen Aird, heritage manager for the First Peoples’ Cultural Council said, “(We are) honoured to support the revitalization of the Nazko Community Hall. As a traditional long house, it has been the heart of Nazko First Nation gatherings and sharing since 1972. FPCC is inspired to see this vital cultural space restored and reclaimed for future generations of knowledge keepers.”
The work was done with local contractors, adding economic benefits as well, said Stump, who thanked West Fraser Mills, the Realize Project Development, and many individual members of the Nazko community over and above local government.
Oct. 10 is set for a grand re-opening to thank and celebrate the hall’s many supporters, the volunteers, the donors, and as always food is involved.
“This location is such a great place. It’s in the heart of the community,” Stump said, inviting the public to come feel the pulse of Nazko on Oct. 10.