DECOLONIZING BC’s Roadside History – in Culturally Modified
By Joanne Hammond
In September 2016, a sign was unveiled just up the street from my home in Kamloops. It’s the kind of familiar sign that dots Canada’s highways, meant for motorists to pull over, learn a thing or two about local history, and move on with new appreciation for the landscape. The new sign kicked off a campaign by the BC Ministry of Transportation to expand the province’s stock of public history and to invite suggestions about the stories people would like to tell.
This particular sign overlooks a cultural landscape filled with indigenous heritage, blanketed with sites left by millennia of Secwepemc occupation. History that’s crucial to the place that would become Kamloops and the province that would become British Columbia. But on the new sign, all that indigenous history remains silent, left out of a narrative meant to convey a different past. Instead, it told a tired old story: white people came here, conquered wilderness, and now here we are, prosperous masters of the domain. These signs — and much public history in colonized places — have a job to do, and it’s not an honest one. Continue reading