Three dozen people were at the Harmony Bell project in Ashcroft on April 7, to see the dedication of a bench donated by the congregation of St. Alban’s Anglican Church and the Territory of the People. Both the bench and the site of a time capsule buried beside the Harmony Bell were blessed by Bishop Barbara Andrews of the Territory of the People.
The Harmony Bell project was the brainchild of mosaic glass artist Marina Papais and her husband, architect Daniel Collett. With the support of numerous groups, community organizations, and volunteers, it was built to commemorate the various peoples who played a part in creating Ashcroft and contributing to its growth, including First Nations people, early settlers from Europe and America, and members of the Chinese and Japanese communities.
The bench was placed so as to face the First Nations mosaic, and Elders Diane Sandy and Johnny Pierro were on hand with a welcoming song and a prayer. Pierro said that when he comes to the communities of Ashcroft and Cache Creek he always acknowledges the people who built things for us. “I think of the Chinese community, with their ranching and farming, They gave us jobs.
“We never exclude anybody in our songs and prayers.”
Andrews said that it gave her great joy to be there for the dedication. “The name Territory of the People comes from First Nations, and we have a commitment to walk with all people. I feel very proud to have our name associated here with these four panels, which symbolize our commitment to walking with all.”
Andrews blessed the bench and the site of the time capsule—which is marked with a mosaic—with holy water from a vessel which belonged to the late Jim White, a former minister at St. Alban’s who was deeply involved with First Nations in the area, as well as a keen lover of history. “It would have made Jim so happy,” said Andrews.
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart spoke of her pride in the community and of what the Harmony Bell project represented, while Ashcroft mayor Barbara Roden noted that at a time when many people around the world are showing fear and resentment of others, the Harmony Bell celebrates people embracing others, and working together to create a community of which we can all be proud. She added that while a bench might seem a simple thing, it is often simple things that carry the most weight and meaning.
The Reverend Martina Duncan of St. Alban’s thanked everyone for attending the dedication, and gave special thanks to Papais and Collett for their vision in designing and creating the Harmony Bell project. After the service, attendees met at St. Alban’s for a barbecue lunch hosted by the church.