Malahat centre ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ [photos]

"It’s a beautiful vision becoming reality," said B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon before cutting the ribbon with Chief Michael Harry to open the Malahat First Nation’s Kwunew Kwasun Cultural Resource Centre on Wednesday.

Looking around at the impressive post and beam structure, which was filled to overflowing by dignitaries and project supporters, she said, "You’re right, Chief, you do need a bigger building," she told the audience, to chuckles from the crowd.

Guichon said the building may be a library but is "indeed greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a place of learning, a place of teaching, a place for renewal and a place for celebration. This centre was born out of respectful cooperation."

She praised the Malahat Nation for its clear road map for future years, adding, "I imagine that’s a very tough job to consider all members’ concerns and come up with a shared vision. But once that vision is in place it is indeed a powerful tool to guide a future."

Guichon then shared that her own roadmap involved three Rs: "respect, relationship and responsibility" coupled with a desire to see "healthy people in healthy communities on healthy land."

The cent re was built in par tner shi p with the Malahat Nation, the Lieutenant Governor’s own Write to Read project, the South Cowichan Rotary Club and many community partners.

Rotary members collected all the books required for the new library, BRIT CO donated one module and the community and partners purchased the second module.

Computers were supplied by TLD Computers (London Drugs) and local businesses assisted with installation and construction needs.

Bob Blacker of Rotar y Internat ional, talked about how the design of the building emerged in one five hour session in November 2012.

He had been questioned about the possibility of assisting the Malahat Nation with a trailer for a library.

A speedy exchange of emails produced a quick answer: We’re in! and the rest is history.

A group of five people got together to discuss a plan and it was soon seen that a great design could include traditional First Nations elements.

"In five hours we came up with the design of this building and it was amazing. A roll of paper was put on the table and the designer started drawing and kept going and it got to be eight feet long," Blacker said.

Dedicatory prayers and the exchange of a variety of gifts were also part of the celebration.

Chief Harry thanked everyone involved in "building two worlds together and sustaining a legacy."