VICTORIA, BC – In late November, the Construction Foundation team travelled to Bella Coola for one of the organization’s most unique trips of the year. The CFBC team and local community came together for a series of workshops over a two-day period, developed and led by CFBC Catalyst, Indigenous Communities Dean Heron and Coast Salish artist Peter Gong at Acwsalcta school.
Located approximately 1000 kilometres north of Vancouver, BC in the Great Bear Rainforest, Bella Coola is home to a modest population of just over 2000 residents.
“It’s quite an experience just to get to Bella Coola,” said Heron. “Once you arrive however, it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots in the province and probably the entire country.”
The Foundation’s initial day of workshops featured members of the Bella Coola community putting in a substantial effort to create their very own Bentwood Boxes. Originally scheduled as an eight-hour workshop, both participant and teachers returned after a community dinner to complete their boxes.
The second day welcomed 15 teachers from the valley for a second Bentwood Box making workshop. It was another full day of work, even with the assistance of prefabricated material from artist Peter Gong.
“The idea of creating a Bentwood Box was built around what the community here in Bella Coola requested,” said Heron. “It was a chance to bring something back to the community that was culturally significant. They have never really had a Bentwood Box workshop here—one of the elders said that they hadn’t had one of those workshops in over a 100 years, despite all the culture that comes through the area.”
While there are many practical uses for the boxes themselves, Heron points out that the process of creating them can be used in a variety of unique ways to encourage learning in the classroom.
“All the teachers can now look at the boxes, develop educational lessons and use them as vessel for teaching math, as an example. One of the teachers was going to bring the box back to her class and teach cooking with it.”
The trip to Bella Coola is the first of its kind for the Foundation, but is by no means the last. Discussions are already underway to bring similar structured workshops to a number of provincial regions in the New Year.
About the Construction Foundation of BC
The Construction Foundation builds community through engagement in charitable initiatives and a commitment to industry focused education and research initiatives that benefit all British Columbians. For more information, please visit www.constructionfoundation.ca.