We are deeply sorry for any hurt and confusion our recent newspaper advertisement has caused. We see now that our choice of words could be interpreted as Barkerville making light of one of the darkest chapters in the history of the indigenous peoples of British Columbia. This was not our intention – in fact quite the opposite – and we take full responsibility for our mistake. We did not mean to appear as though we were celebrating disease, nor the devastation caused by historical epidemics. We acknowledge that we have inadvertently done just that, and unequivocally apologize for our error.
The ad in question has been removed from any further campaign communications, and we will be extra vigilant in our attempts to communicate the message of hope and resilience that was our original goal.
Barkerville Historic Town & Park makes a concerted effort to raise awareness of the smallpox epidemic in British Columbia, as well as subsequent pandemics, as a way of expressing to our visitors the continued importance of protecting our communities, our elders, and our culture keepers. We recognize that our recent ad did not convey this objective, and instead may seem to be dismissive of an historic trauma.
We are in the process of having an open and progressive conversation with Barkerville’s Indigenous interpreters and regional partners about the ad and how we might now use our mistake as an opportunity to engage in a broader, more uncomfortable conversation. A very timely conversation about acknowledgement, equity, and the survival of our species as a whole.
We had hoped to remind the people of this province that they can travel to Barkerville and do so safely, with relatively easy social distancing measures in place, because we have planned it that way for their health, safety, and peace of mind.
Regardless of our original intent, we obviously see that we need to expand upon the context of our word choices in any future messaging and promise to do so. The dialogue that has begun as a result of our error is extremely important and welcome, and we hope to be able to continue this conversation in a meaningful way, in the months and years to come. Please continue to hold us accountable for any errors we make along the way. We are open to any and all feedback you may have for us, and I encourage you to contact me directly with any comments or concerns you may have.
Kate Cox, Chief Executive Officer
Barkerville Historic Town & Park and Cottonwood House Historic Site
1-888-994-3332 ex. 39