The Spuzzum First Nation (SFN) are throwing a potluck potlatch to celebrate the launch of their campaign to preserve and restore the 1926 Alexandra Bridge structure, a priceless Canadian heritage tourism asset.
Chief James Hobart and the SFN are inviting the public to the event in their traditional territory on Sat., July 26 at the Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park picnic area. The centrepiece of the festivities will be their First Salmon Ceremony, an event normally held within the SFN community.
“The First Salmon Ceremony is a feast giving thanks for abundance and we want to share that abundance with everyone along the Gold Rush/Spirit Trails,” said Chief Hobart. “The 1926 Alexandra Bridge structure is one of the things we’re grateful for—it has an abundance of history and heritage tourism potential.”
The celebrations start at 11:00 am with a welcome to the traditional territory, stories of the significance of the First Salmon Ceremony, and a brief outline of the Alexandra Bridge Project, which is dedicated to making a rejuvenated bridge a legacy project for the Canada150 celebrations. The SFN is one of the lead organizations in the Alexandra Bridge Project, a coalition of government, community, and corporate groups with the common goal of making the preservation of the bridge a legacy project for the Canada150 celebrations in 2017.
“The Alexandra Bridge is an icon of Canadian transportation and cultural history, the highways equivalent of the Last Spike,” said Chief Hobart. “But it also the tip of a heritage iceberg that includes 10,000 years of First Nations’ history, the fur trade, the Gold Rush, and the building of the railways. It’s something worth preserving.”
Participants will feast on barbecued salmon and other food at this free event. They’ll also be asked to sign a petition calling on the provincial government to show leadership in assembling the resources needed to restore and rejuvenate the 88-year-old bridge structure.
The 1926 bridge—which has not seen automobile traffic since 1964, when it was replaced by the current steel-arch span that was built when the highway was modernized—is on the site of an earlier suspension bridge, constructed in 1861 as part of the Cariboo Wagon Road. That original bridge was rebuilt in 1863 by Royal Engineers, but was destroyed by high water in 1894, and dismantled in 1912. The increase in road traffic after World War I led to construction of the Cariboo Highway (as it was called) through the Fraser Canyon in the 1920s, and the building of a new bridge.
The Spuzzum First Nation is an active and growing community in the heart of the historic Fraser Canyon. A member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council, its offices are near the Alexandra Bridge and about 16 kilometres north of Yale.
Please join Chief Hobart, the Spuzzum People, the Alexandra Bridge Project partners, community members, and businesses from the Fraser Canyon and beyond for a feast for both body and soul on July 26, starting at 11:00 am.