A New (Old) Face

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I guess it’s high time I introduced myself – hello world! I’m Alyson, the Creston Museum’s co-op student whose face you will be seeing around here until Christmastime. Now some of you might recognize me, which makes total sense because I myself was a summer student waaaaay back in 2015. Since then, I’ve been plotting ways in which I might get my history nerd self back inside Schultz’s stone walls, and it must have worked, because here I am!

These last few weeks my nose has been buried deep in books as I brush up on my local history and take in as much information as possible on the Ktunaxa culture. You see, I’m studying Public Folklore, which means I am TOTALLY fascinated by both tangible (material culture) and intangible (oral histories, folktale, legend, myth, traditional knowledge, belief systems, etc.) cultural heritage, so I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I am to be spending the next 4+ months researching a set of Ktunaxa regalia in the museum’s collection! The second half of my work term will be spent examining food sustainability in the Creston Valley, which I am equally as excited to learn all about (especially because I anticipate many fieldwork excursions to orchards and *ahem* wineries, too).

During those occasional moments when I have torn my nose out of the books (and my butt out of the archives), I have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities both on and off the museum grounds. After two weeks of crash courses on Creston’s history and the museum’s daily operations, my colleague Alyssa (same age, same hair colour, same “Aly” name as me – sorry, Tammy) and I headed to Rossland last Monday for my first ever BCMA workshop. Our instructor, Kim Gough of the Royal BC Museum, taught us all about how to create and run visitor-focused museum programs, which was hugely useful for me – a self-professed programming Newbie.

Once we had returned home to the museum grounds, it was not back to business as usual; in fact, Tuesday was the first day of work for our three new summer students. As a fairly new hire myself, I got to tag along in all of the fun training activities with Erica, Matea, and Madison. Alyssa, the Programming Co-ordinator, prepped us all to lead the ever-popular “Lessons in the Schoolhouse,” teaching us the benefits of discovery-based (versus direct) learning. After we each had a turn at playing schoolteacher, we directed our attention to another kid-focused program, the “Pioneer Lesson”. For this activity, Alyssa had us work together to make a raspberry tart ENTIRELY FROM SCRATCH. Folks, we even made the butter ourselves. It was so incredibly gratifying, and I should let you know that this is coming from someone who already has a diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts under her belt.

The rest of the week was a whirlwind of preparing for the chaos that is Blossom Festival weekend, including the opening of our brand new outdoor exhibit on forestry in the Creston Valley. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the big unveiling, but it was for good reason because I had the opportunity to go watch the Lower Kootenay Band powwow instead. I must admit, I had never been to a powwow before in my life, but now I am determined to never miss another local powwow again. The detailed regalia was stunning, the drumming and singing were both incredibly powerful and moving, and the ways that the dancers moved to the music is impossible to put into words. I am so appreciative that the Lower Kootenay Band allows spectators to attend this sacred event – it left me in awe of this culture and the strength of its people.

Now that the long weekend has come to a close, I am settling back into the swing of things here at the Creston Museum. I don’t know exactly what excitement is in store for me in these coming months, but I cannot wait to share it with you all, so please stay tuned!

With warm wishes (and a whole lot of caffeine),

– Your friendly Research Curator