BC heritage and records privatized

Happy Birthday British Columbia! BC was officially born 154 years ago on November 19th, 1858.

Looking back we can see that early in British Columbia’s history there was an effort to preserve our past records, unfortunately modern-day politicos of BC had other priorities.

1886 - BC Pioneers raise concerns about heritage

The Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) had its beginnings in a petition submitted to the provincial government by a group of influential citizens in Victoria in January 1886. That petition articulated the need for raising public consciousness about stewardship and educational matters concerning the province’s heritage.

“It has long been felt desirable that a Provincial museum should be established in order to preserve specimens of the natural products and Native Antiquities and Manufacture of the Province and to classify and exhibit the same for the information of the public” (Begbie et al 1886).

Their efforts eventually culminated in the establishment of the Provincial Museum of Natural History later named the “British Columbia Provincial Museum,” and presently, the “Royal British Columbia Museum.”

1960 - Archaeological and Historic Sites Protection Act

The first significant legislative protection for archaeological sites in British Columbia was the passage by the provincial government of the Archaeological and Historic Sites Protection Act (AHSPA) in 1960.

The 1960 legislation expanded the range of automatically protected site types from the earlier focus on rock art to include all burial places, as well as:

 ”any kitchen-midden, shell-heap, house-pit, cave, or other structure, or other archaeological remains on crown lands, whether designated as an archaeological site or not.”

AHSPA also mandated creation of the first provincial body specifically devoted to advising the government on matters concerning archaeology — the Archaeological Sites Advisory Board (ASAB).

1977 – Decline begins in heritage protection

The Heritage Conservation Act of 1977, effectively diminished the range of site types that were automatically protected by legislation. Rock-art and burial sites were to have “historic or archaeological significance” (undefined in the Act) in order to be automatically protected. Additionally, the catch-all category of other archaeological sites or objects, as well as “mounds,” were no longer included in the legislation.

2002-2003 – Privatization of BC Heritage

Royal BC Museum (RBCM) was made into a Crown Corporation in November 2002. The crown corporation was set up to include the former provincial museum, provincial archives, Helmcken House and the Netherlands Carillon (the bells donated by the Dutch citizens of Victoria).

The Heritage Resource Centre was once a loaning library which held approximately 15,000 titles when it closed at the end of March 2003.  Most of the titles were transferred to the RBCM Corporation.

Access to the heritage resource materials is on-site only and photocopies can be made for a fee. First Nations in remote locations who��require access to information need to hire a Victoria based researcher which could end up being quite costly.

Private profiting from our public heritage

Comparatively, copyright fees at the RBCM Corporation is more expensive than other USA museums. For example, to use an image for a book cover, the Smithsonian Museum Archives charges $100, whereas the RBCM Corporation charges $250.

BC stories and history destroyed for profit

Another concern is that the Royal British Columbia Museum functioning as a corporation could end up sharing or selling archaeological site location data, traditional land use information, and artifact collections. How will access to this potentially sensitive cultural information be controlled? Why would the BC government want to divest itself from recording and documenting its own history?

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King Tides: a preview of rising sea levels

The arrival of November on the coast brings with it King Tides.

King Tides occur from November through February on the B.C. coast and are the most extreme high tides during the year. These tides often coincide with storm surges, adding to the height of the water.

King Tides give us a sneak preview of what higher sea levels could look like.

As global temperatures rise, the oceans are expected to warm and expand. Ice caps and glaciers will melt, and more precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow. The Washington Department of Ecology reports that sea level will rise and could affect the west coast in the following ways:

intensifying flooding
shifting coastal beaches inland
increasing coastal bluff erosion
endangering homes and infrastructure
threatening coastal freshwater springs

You can submit your King Tide photos to the Live Smart King Tide Photo Initiative (British Columbia) on Flickr and follow #KingTidesBC on twitter.

King Tides bring Tsunami Debris

Sadly here in BC it appears plans are lacking to tackle the avalanche of debris on the way from Japan. If you go the BC Ministry of Environment site you will find that there is a Tsunami Debris Committee but that website has been forwarded to another Ministry of Environment page. The information there is:

 ”Please report all general tsunami debris sightings to the U.S.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) email address designated  for this purpose: DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.”

The Japanese government estimated 1.5 million tonnes of tsunami debris was left floating in the Pacific Ocean. Ghost vessels washing ashore are being reported to and managed by Transport Canada’s Receiver of Wrecks.

Important question: who will monitor all this debris and keep mariners safe when they close the Marine Communication Transportation Services (MCTS) centres along the BC coast?

Lastly, watch this interesting short video of Dr. John Church as he explains: What is sea level rise? Is sea level rise uniform?


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BC Anti-Bullying Summit and Strategies

Bully BC Anti Bullying Summit and Strategies

Anti-Bullying Chart

This week there is more attention being focused on solutions to the rampant problem of bullying in our communities.

Yesterday, an anti-bullying summit conference was held, at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue to discuss training programs for educators and community partners and next week  erasebullying.ca goes live.

Progress is slowly arriving. Bill 14, which came into effect on July 2, 2012, allows WorkSafeBC (“WCB”) to deal with claims involving depression and anxiety that are caused by workplace stressors such as bullying.

The anti-bullying chart above shows the broad reach bullying has on our society as a whole.  Bullying takes different forms as it moves up from the individual level to work place environments to local governments and to the highest courts of our country. As bullies move up the ladder and their influence and control broadens, everyone’s rights and freedoms are at stake.

Last week we looked back at history and remembered those who fought in previous wars, now is a good time to look forward and learn from the past.

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