As much a repository of culture and art as it is a space for conducting local governance, the new Campbell River Indian Band office was opened Monday with a traditional blessing, songs and a tour.
“Going back, the first administration building in the 1970s and 80s was 700 square feet,” Chief Bob Pollard said following songs and dances performed by the Laich-kwil-tach Cultural Group.
“Our accounting department is bigger than the whole staff was then. Our next building was 4,000 square feet, and we’ve outgrown that now.”
The new building, constructed on band territory between the Island Highway and 16th Avenue, is a two-storey monument to a culture bridging the past and future.
Built by Ketza Pacific, it features cedar post-and-beam construction as well as plenty of glass and decorative metal facing in culturally meaningful designs created by Mark Henderson.
“I was honoured when I was approached to do these designs for the band office,” Mark Henderson told the audience.
“I picked the thunderbird and the eagle. The thunderbird is the main crest of our people here amongst the Laich-kwil-tach tribe. You saw, when we blessed the building here, we used eagle down. It represents peace amongst all our people, blessings and a good future for the building.”
Other cultural art pieces, largely designed by members of the Henderson family, adorn the outside and the inside of the new offices.
A huge, vertical painting is hung above the second-floor elevator entrance, and the double doors into the council meeting room are hung with four original coppers designed by Greg Henderson signifying the crests of the families of the Campbell River First Nation, said band councillor Dean Drake.
Inside that council room is perhaps the most breathtaking artwork, a huge board table carved and painted in three dimensions by Junior Henderson and covered with a heavy glass top.
“These pieces reflect the important commitment to Laich-kwil-tach culture and tradition mingled with state-of-the-art technical and operational facilities,” band manager Ken Cooper said.
The table was given its own blessing, in a private event for the community’s elders.