News » Whistler

Letters to the editor


Page 5 of 8

Re: Different Ways of Knowing, Pique Jan. 23

I fully agree with the statement, "It is high time to embrace our neighbours to the north and south, who were our predecessors as residents and visitors in the valley." However, I am not yet sure that building a cultural centre in Whistler is the best way to do this. I think that any cultural centre built should be put on the land of the First Nations groups involved. I agree that Whistler's built up tourism can serve as a catalyst to increasing the knowledge of the tourists who visit us, but that there could be a better way to link the tourists who visit Whistler and our neighbouring First Nations communities. I would think that a small cultural centre built in Whistler with tourist buses running interpretive tours to the neighbouring communities and their larger, more involved cultural centres would better benefit the people within those communities.

Having a cultural centre in Mount Currie serviced by buses from Whistler would mean more tourists spending dollars within the First Nations communities. It would also show the tourists more beautiful areas they may want to visit on their own in the future and draw them to accommodations within the community for those who do not wish to stay in Whistler but welcome a cultural holiday, and would give them a better insight into Native culture than a museum and a few First Nations employees could provide. The cultural centre could then serve as a starting point for other people setting up related cultural activities such as canoe trips or guided bush walks. The centre would likely benefit the neighbouring town of Pemberton by bringing tourists further north.

The same or similar situation could be set up in Squamish. Though the buses may not be needed as the tourists could be attracted on their way past after learning of the potential on their visit to the smaller cultural centre within Whistler. The two First Nations could work together to set up similar but different attractions to encourage people to visit both, with either two trips while on vacation in Whistler or attending one on their first visit and enjoying it so much that they are interested in seeing the other on their next trip.

I still believe that Whistler should play an integral part in a cultural centre here and should be a strong partner in the outlying cultural centres. We (as Whistlerites) attract the tourists, and we also have access to the money and the funding needed for such a project. We of course also have a stake in it with the Olympics, and with showing our visitors that we do have a long history and we do care for our neighbouring communities and those that were here before us. Having grown up in Whistler, it has always amazed me how easily we have all ignored our First Nations neighbours.