Smithers and the Bulkley Valley Museum is located on C’inulh K’it, Cas Yikh (Grizzly House) territory, belonging to the Gidimt’en Clan of the Witsuwit’en (Wet’suwet’en).
The Bulkley Valley Museum collects, preserves and presents items of historical and cultural significance from Smithers and the Bulkley Valley, with the purpose of making our local history exciting and engaging.
Local community members, including early Smithers resident Ernest Hann, had been compiling a collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs representing the history of Smithers and the surrounding Bulkley Valley as early as 1961. These collections formed the museum’s first public displays when the Smithers Centennial Library & Museum opened in November 1967.
In 1971 the Museum was officially incorporated under the Society’s Act of British Columbia as the Bulkley Valley Historical & Museum Society. In 1974 as space became limited in the Library/Museum building, the Museum was moved to the Central Park Building, a heritage building constructed in 1925 as the provincial government building and courthouse. The Museum first shared space in the Central Park Building with the Smithers Art Gallery, later moving to its own space on the first floor. The Museum continues to operate in that space today. The Bulkley Valley Museum is open year round, and its collections, exhibits, and programing are enjoyed by over 4000 people each year.
The Bulkley Valley Museum is operated by the Bulkley Valley Historical & Museum Society (BVHMS). The Society elects a Board of Directors from its membership. Acting as a policy board, the Board of Directors are responsible for establishing vision, policy, and resources for the Museum. The BVHMS operates under the following mandate (constitution), adopted in 1974:
1. To gather and preserve local historical artifacts, information and records
2. To maintain and operate a museum to house and display said artifacts
3. To provide access to archival materials for research purposes
4. To encourage preservation of historical landmarks, including buildings and monuments
2023-24 Board of Directors:
President: Rick Budhwa
Vice President: Pat Scott
Secretary: Betty Campbell
Treasurer: Eric Holdijk
Directors: Jonathan Boone, Claire de Jong, Anne Desplanches
Town Council Liaison: Laura Leonard (non-voting)
In 2017 the Museum adopted a new five-year strategic plan. This plan was built on public feedback gathered formally through a 2015 survey, and informally from visitor and community feedback between 2015-2017. The Board of Directors and Curator formalized the written plan in 2016. The plan outlines four key areas that will guide the Museum’s activities over the next five years: Collections Management Documentation and Storage, Community Investment, Exhibit Renewal, and Accessing History through Outreach and Programming.
The Board of Directors will present a new five-year strategic plan in 2023. A community feedback survey was distributed in 2021 to help guide strategic direction and planning for the 2023-2027 period.
View a summary of the survey results →
Curator: Kira Westby
Kira is originally from Peterborough, Ontario, Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg traditional territory. She received her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and History from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2010, and a Masters in Public History from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Prior to moving to Smithers she worked at the archaeological collections facility Sustainable Archaeology: Western in London, Ontario for three years. While living in London, Kira was the Emerging Leaders Representative on the London Advisory Committee on Heritage. Kira has been Curator of the Bulkley Valley Museum since November 2014. She is the Secretary of the BC Historical Federation, and serves as a Director with Tourism Smithers and the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation.
Email Kira: email@example.com
Programming and Administrative Assistant: Mélanie Morin
Mélanie has lived in Smithers since 2001, and has previously worked in both adult and youth educational programming with the Kyah Wiget Education Society, School District #54, Witsuwit’en Language and Culture Society, and École la Grande-ourse. Mélanie completed a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology at University of British Columbia, and has extensive experience in archival and genealogical research, and publishing. She is the compiling author of both the first and second editions of Nihwhts’ide’nï Hibi’it’ën: The Ways of our Ancestors. She is a fluent speaker of French, English, Spanish, and Witsuwit’en.
Email Mélanie: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bulkley Valley Museum receives annual operational funding assistance from the Town of Smithers, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Community Gaming Grant. The Museum applies for additional funding for special projects or programs as required. To learn more about our funders and past projects or programs they have supported, please contact the Museum.
The Bulkley Valley Museum also receives significant support for its activities and programs from local businesses through donations or corporate memberships. Become a corporate sponsor or obtain a corporate membership for your business!
The Bulkley Valley Museum is an institutional member of the British Columbia Museums Association, the Archives Association of British Columbia, the Canadian Museum Association, the BC Historical Federation, the Bulkley Valley Arts Council, and the Smithers and District Chamber of Commerce.