Respected elder’s work honoured

The late Mary Thomas' voice will continue to be heard thanks to a partnership between the province and Salmon Arm community radio.

  • Mar. 10, 2015 4:00 p.m.
Late Neskonlith elder Mary Thomas looks at her Queen’s Jubilee Medal awarded in 2002.

Late Neskonlith elder Mary Thomas looks at her Queen’s Jubilee Medal awarded in 2002.

The voice, cultural lectures and experiences of Secwepemc elder Mary Thomas will be preserved for future generations.

And Mary Arnouse will get valuable work experience in digital archiving, thanks to a funding partnership between the Government of B.C. and the Voice of the Shuswap Broadcast Society (VSBS).

Victoria is contributing more than $24,000 to a 33-week project that will provide Arnouse with a variety of skills, including how to edit and create new digital materials from existing analogue media.

Arnouse also will develop a catalogue system for Thomas’ lectures on First Nations history, culture and language.

Once completed, the lectures will be available to radio stations, colleges and universities across Canada.

Thomas, who died in 2007, was a tireless advocate of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) people, their language and culture and influenced and inspired generations.

She also had a keen interest in plants and wildlife and received many awards for her knowledge, teachings and activism.

Thomas was the first First Nations person to receive the Indigenous Conservationist of the Year award from the Seacology Foundation.

She was also bestowed with honorary degrees from the University of Victoria and the University of North Carolina. In 2002, she received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

“This community benefited enormously from the contributions of Mary Thomas and now her lectures will be preserved for the people here in the Shuswap region and all Canadians as radio stations and media will have access to these important lectures once the project is complete,” said Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo.

Voice of the Shuswap Broadcast Society board member Leah Shaw also applauds the job creation partnership with the province.

“We are building an archive, increasing sharing options between our station and other community radio stations,” she said. “We are also building on the intrinsic value of revitalizing First Nations language and culture through storytelling.”

Shaw says the project will benefit the local community radio station’s listeners and bridges the gaps between elders and youth, First Nations and non-First Nations people.

Arnouse says she is being given the opportunity to explore an important way of cataloguing, documenting and preserving her First Nations culture.

B.C.’s Community and Employer Partnerships programs fund projects that increase employability and share labour market information.