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  • 8 Jan 2024 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Since 2020, we have globally seen a rise in remote and hybrid work, but as we return to a “new normal,” many workplaces are abandoning these models. However, many museums, galleries, and heritage sites have limited workspace, equipment, accessibility, and funding obligations that make the idea of hiring a remote or hybrid employee simultaneously intriguing and complicated.

    On Jan. 24, join Tammy Bradford for a webinar on the ins and outs of embracing work from home and hybrid positions in your workplace. Tammy will discuss the Creston Museum’s process of creating hybrid positions, the multifaceted benefits of work from home positions for both employers and employees, and some specific objections and hesitations that the Creston Museum has had to address in their process.

    For more information and to register:

  • 5 Jan 2024 4:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Union Laundry on Union Street near Gore in Vancouver, probably in the early 1960s. (Courtesy Elwin Xie)

    BCHF board member Elwin Xie will be this month's presenter to the Vancouver Historical Society.

    Xie grew up in his parents’ home and business, the Union Laundry on Union Street just west of Gore, land that was transformed in the early 1970s for the Georgia Viaduct’s off-ramp onto Prior Street.

    His family is representative of many long-time working-class Chinese families – perhaps it is even the quintessential Chinese Canadian family. He speaks Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Vancouver and on YouTube.

    In addition to making videos for the BCHF and VHS, Elwin works at the newly opened Chinese Canadian Museum as a guide, and has been a museum interpreter at the Burnaby Village Museum since 2009.

  • 5 Jan 2024 4:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Stories regarding black farmers, settlers, and pioneers in BC tend not to get told because they didn't write the history books. The role Black people played has been largely erased. Can we find and retell their stories? Join a speaker series to learn about hidden Black histories of the Lower Mainland, presented by Shayla Bird and Carl Beach.

    When: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 12 to 1 p.m.
    Where: Online via Microsoft Teams
    Cost: Free
    How to Register: Register online (Course ID 00352880)
    OR Call/Email the Museum of Surrey: 604-592-6956 |

    Shayla Bird

    Shayla is a sister, daughter, educator, learner, and friend. Shayla is an adoptee from Atlanta who grew up in Abbotsford and currently resides in Hogan's Alley, known presently as Strathcona. Becoming an educator is both nature and nurture for her. Her biological father and his mother are both educators, and her parents are educators as well.

    The past two years Shayla created a Black Student Union called Black Connections HS where roughly 60 Black youth from Grades 9-12 gather at bi-weekly meetings and engage in place-based learning activities. Shayla focuses her time on providing students with opportunities to see themselves represented in their various communities, encouraging educators to unlearn, learn, relearn and reframe and ultimately focusing on Black joy.

    Carl Beach

    Carlyle Beach graduated from UBC in 1972 with a B.A. in History. In his thirty-two years as a teacher and twelve years as a teacher-on-call, Carl presented Multicultural Anti-Racist Workshops to teachers (elementary and Secondary) throughout B.C. at Multicultural Camps, in Classrooms and on teacher Pro-D days and sponsored Multicultural clubs. As a BCTF member Carl has been on the Program Against Racism Committee, the Metro Zone Coordinator for the Committee Against Racism and the Educators Against Racism committee.
  • 5 Jan 2024 4:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Al Donnelly with Boundary Historical Society president Joan Heart and vice-president Cher Wyers at an historic cabin near Greenwood.

    Al Donnelly, who died Jan. 1, was an essential part of the Boundary Historical Society: a prolific writer, past president, and always a supporter.

    In 2021, the BCHF recognized him with an Inspiration Award for his work documenting the Boundary and maintaining the society's 1899 cabin at Jewel Lake, seen above. Tackling duties around security, cleanliness and ground maintenance, Al’s work helped ensure the public will be able to enjoy the cabin for years to come.  

    Al also undertook deep research on the history of the Grand Forks and Greenwood areas. During the pandemic, he worked ceaselessly to locate, collate, research and write stories about the Boundary. The work has culminated into the production of the Boundary Historical Society’s 18th historical report publication. 

  • 5 Jan 2024 4:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Princeton Museum began a full collection inventory and catalog process in 2020 after several prior attempts failed. This presentation by Todd Davidson to the BCHF conference last year provides some insights into what the museum has learned through this process.

    Establishing a collections management system database from scratch is frightening. Todd talks about some fundamental questions that need to be answered before starting and how they affect the outcome. Todd discusses rapidly changing technology and how to posture for the future. Todd is the operations manager of the Princeton and District Museum and Archives Society.

  • 3 Jan 2024 4:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Raymond Liens in a pride parade.

    An excerpt from the Winter 2023-24 edition of British Columbia History.

    By Eric Damer

    Last summer, I chatted with Raymond Liens about his life work as an activist organizing workers to secure their rights, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

    ED: Hello. Raymond! Thanks for agreeing to the interview.

    RL: My pleasure, Eric.

    ED: I understand that you have had quite an active career in community and union organizing. How did this all begin?

    RL: Well, I was born in Vietnam, where our family had settled for many generations, but after the American withdrawal in 1975 we were persecuted because of our Chinese heritage and our bourgeois status. Everything was taken from us—home, business, properties. We fled for our lives as boat people. In 1979, after months in a Malaysian camp, Canada took us in as refugees. We arrived in Vancouver before transferring to Winnipeg to start a new life.

    ED: Wow, I’m glad you made it here safely. So how did you move into community organizing?

    RL: My parents soon found work sewing garments but managed to save enough money to open a small Southeast Asian grocery store. It became a hub for our tight-knit community. Everyone knew everything about each other.

    While in high school, I saw how kids from our community had no structured programs during the summer break, so I applied for a federal job-creation grant to run a summer camp. Stanley Knowles, our MP, had me over to his home to help with the application. I was only 17, but I got the grant. This encounter shaped my identity as a new Canadian tremendously.

    I also worked as an interpreter because I spoke English, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. I helped people with hospital visits, immigration appointments, the police, and even at the courts for minor crimes.

    ED: And when did you begin working with unions?

    RL: In 1988, United Food and Commercial Workers contacted me to help unionize a poultry processing plant that had many problems. The union had no one who could communicate with the workers, who distrusted unions because of their experience under the communist regime from which they escaped. We had to work fast, but eventually the majority signed up. This experience made me firmly committed to workers’ rights, and the potential of unions in securing those rights.

    ED: This took place in Manitoba. How did you come to BC?

    RL: It’s a bit of an accident, really. Someone who knew someone from UFCW [United Food and Commercial Workers] moved to BC in 1991, and learned that Glen Clark, then Minister of Finance, was hiring office staff. I was told about the opportunity, applied, and had an interview over the phone with him. Turns out Clark was looking for a constituency assistant, and he had the audacity to hire a kid from Winnipeg who had no real political experience. Of course, I accepted and spent five years working with him.

    ED: Did this put an end to your union work?

    RL: Of course not. After moving to Vancouver, I called my boyfriend in Quebec and invited him to join me in Vancouver. He wouldn’t come to Winnipeg, but Vancouver was fine. He arrived a few months later, but then I realized that I could not include him on my extended benefit plan. To me, the gender of one’s partner is totally irrelevant. I grew up in southern Vietnam, where the influence of Cambodian culture and Buddhism meant that sexual orientation and gender identity are not big issues at all. We don’t enforce strict gender roles or insist on particular sexual preferences.

    ED: So how did you respond?

    RL: Well, I petitioned my union, the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), to recognize same-sex couples. I had so much push-back! I had only one ally at first, but I persisted. I lobbied pretty hard until 1994, when the union finally changed the collective agreement to recognize same-sex partnerships. At that time, very few collective agreements included these rights.

    ED: I guess you helped reform the union!

    RL: Absolutely. My work with Clark shifted when he assigned me to work with Jim Green and others to set up a crown corporation called Four Corners Community Savings that would bring banking services to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Our board of directors included millionaires, business executives, people living on income assistance, and the street entrenched. Some were queer; everyone was treated equally and without any fanfare. This financial institution provided basic financial services for local residents until the provincial Liberals cancelled the project in 2004.

    ED: And you were out of a job?
    RL: Not really. By then I was working as the equity officer for the Hospital Employees Union—perhaps BC’s and maybe Canada’s first full-time union equity officer. I oversaw complaints investigations and conflict resolution in the workplace based on the BC Human Rights Code.

    ED: I found a copy of your handbook, One Union, Many Colours.

    RL: The HEU was in many ways ahead of its time, with everyone fully embracing diversity, including sexual and gender diversity. We also understood that Indigenous people’s struggles as First Peoples were distinct. One of our collective agreements in 1998 included language for gender-neutral washrooms, probably the first in Canada. Also, that year I helped organized HEU members and other Canadian Labour Congress unions to join Pride parades. Many unions hesitated, and not all queer union members wanted to come out. However, many did feel safer marching under their union banner. Finally, I assisted with the first “Pride and Solidarity” conference—the first queer activists’ convention of the Canadian Labour Congress. Hundreds of union and community activists met in Ottawa for the historic moment.

    ED But you are not with the HEU now, are you?

    RL: No, I left to work for a few years with UNITE HERE in New York City as organizing director. Compared to Canadian unions, American unions are much larger and more assertive. Organizers even jump barbed wire fences and sift through garbage to identify workers. The unions in the States believe that if undocumented workers pay taxes, they have the right to organize. One of my first victories was a workplace in California with mostly Hispanic and South Asian workers. There were so many problems that workers wouldn’t gather across cultural groups. But I persisted in meeting as one large group with translators. Within a week they recognized their common struggle and began to cooperate. After certification they bargained successfully for a collective agreement. At the celebration picnic, workers from both sides and their families shared food from their respective cultures. People discovered and enjoyed the taste of tortillas with curry, and naan with carne asada! I have always believed in the power of food to bring people together.

    ED: But eventually you came back to Canada?

    RL: Yes, and I’ve slowed down a little. I no longer work as a union organizer. Instead, I volunteer closer to home, where I sit on the board of the Massey Theatre, in New Westminster. We’re working to promote diversity in the arts and to support the theatre as a cultural hub with exhibitions, workshops, and creative activities. I also volunteer at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre and teach cooking classes online. I still believe in the power of food to bring people together!

    ED: I have to agree! Raymond, thanks so much for sharing some of your remarkable work in the labour movement.
    RL: You are very welcome! •

    Eric Damer is a Burnaby-based historian with an interest in local social and educational history. His clients include Burnaby Village Museum, University of British Columbia, BC Labour Heritage Centre, and the provincial and federal governments.

  • 2 Jan 2024 8:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SAVE THE DATE — On May 4, 2024 the BCHF will be hosting a one-day gathering at the University of the Fraser Valley's Chilliwack campus.

    The event features the BCHF Annual General Meeting (AGM), a keynote presentation, a guided cultural bus tour of Stó:lō territory, and the annual awards evening. 

    The one-day event takes the place of the usual multi-day conference format this year. To supplement the in-person spring event, an online presentation series is being planned for the fall.

    2025 will see the return to a full in-person conference. If your organization is interested in hosting the conference, or if you would like to be considered as an online presenter for the 2024 fall series, please contact us:

    Please refer to the conference page of our website for more information about the 2024 Spring Gathering. 

  • 29 Dec 2023 1:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One hundred and 20 years after Bill Miner came to the Similkameen country, he is still probably Canada’s best known desperado. Miner was known as George Edwards around Princeton where he played the part of a soft-spoken cattleman and prospector —kind to children and generous to all. In fact, he made his living rustling cattle, smuggling Chinese immigrants and opium across the border, and robbing trains. When Indigenous trackers led police to his camp after a 1906 train holdup, his carefully crafted story started to fall apart, casting an unflattering light on gilded age British Columbia.

    Greg Dickson, who presented this story to the BC Historical Federation conference in Princeton this year, is a former CBC Radio journalist and a co-author of three best-selling books on BC history with collaborator Mark Forsythe. In 2014, they received the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for historical writing.

  • 17 Dec 2023 7:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Métis Nation BC has announced it has won the contract to operate Victoria's historic Point Ellice House. The Vancouver Island Local History Society stepped away from managing the site in March 2023, citing insufficient government funding. More details HERE

  • 15 Dec 2023 6:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The board members of the BC Historical Federation would like to wish you and yours a happy holidays. 

    Our volunteers will be taking some time off to enjoy the season with family and friends. 

    Please note that our offices will be closed from December 15 to January 3. We look forward to seeing you in 2024!

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The Secretariat of the BCHF is located on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish speaking Peoples. 

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