I attended the unveiling ceremony for the Ashcroft World Harmony Bell Project on Saturday, June 23, along with an estimated 250 other people. It was a wonderful community event. The weather was cooperative; the sound system was clear; the artwork was stunning; there were plenty of refreshments.
One thing marred the ceremony for me. At the beginning of the presentations, it was announced that a letter from the Honourable Scott Fraser, B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, would not be read aloud in order to save time.
The speakers included the MLA for Fraser-Nicola, the Chief of the Ashcroft Indian Band, the Mayor of Ashcroft, the assistant to the MP, as well as representatives from New Pathways to Gold Society, the Ashcroft and District Lions Club, the Anglican Church, the South Cariboo E. Fry Society, the Hari Krishna community of Saranagati, and the Rotary Club.
Words of admiration for cultural diversity were also shared by the architect, Daniel Collett, and the artist, Marina Papais.
I approached the Rotary Club organizer, who had directed the emcee to not read the letter, saying that I was offended by the lack of respect shown to the B.C. Crown.
He offered no reason for the decision, but did allow me to read the short, well-written letter and then tacked it onto a post of the structure, where it remained for just over half-an-hour, flapping in the wind.
It would have taken an additional 45 seconds to read out the letter from the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. I find it ironic that all the speakers made reference to peace and harmony, love and celebration of differences, but such a public affront to the provincial government went essentially unnoticed.
Gloria E. Mertens
Thank you ever so much to Paché, Marina, Daniel, Barbara, and Andrea for inviting me to the Harmony Mosaics and Bell Tower Celebration. The event was well organized and attended, and a great success. My hearty congratulations to you all, as well as to the Village of Ashcroft!
The calls for harmony, reconciliation, and acceptance of the unity and diversity of each culture—the mainstream Canadians, the First Nations people, the Chinese Canadians, and the Japanese Canadians—shine through the beautiful mosaics and the architecture of the tower.
The good leadership and communal efforts in this project are most admirable.
New Pathways to Gold Society