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Splatsin receives grant to relocate historic St. Mary’s Church – Vernon News

Written by Javed Iqbal

A historic Splatsin church is to be moved.

Splatsin Development Corporation has received a $500,000 grant from Heritage BC’s 150 Hour Immemorial grant program and a $100,000 Rural Development Education grant to relocate and renovate the St. Mary’s Church.

The 104-year-old structure is located in southern Enderby, in the Splatsin territory.

The training program will enable the SDC to employ a Red Seal carpenter to train members of the Splatsin community in the basics of carpentry while renovating the century-old church.

Splatsin chief Kukpi7 Doug Thomas says he is pleased the funding is now in place to move and renovate the church.

“I’ve been involved in this initiative since my second year on the Splatsin band council, and it’s been a long time coming,” he said.

“I would like to thank the elders in our community for requesting the church restoration, Lawrence Williams, SDC and especially Heritage BC for their help. There are a few details regarding the move and restoration that need to be worked out. However, I believe that we will receive a lot of positive input and help from our community who will see this project to completion.”

The new location of the church is currently under review and has not yet been determined.

The next step will be to proceed with an asbestos assessment consultation and possible abatement.

The original St. Mary’s Catholic Church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in 1916.

That church was located near the Splatsin Band Cemetery on Highway 97 south of Enderby.

Families living near the church were able to save the bell, the altar and some of the statues.

In 1916, men from the Splatsin community, along with an Oblate priest, began sawing trees from the reserve to haul to Armstrong to be milled into lumber.

They used the lumber to build the existing church on Canyon Road at Highway 97, using a design similar to churches in Europe.

The new St. Mary’s Church was completed in 1918. It stands today as a place for community members of Splatsin to gather for prayer, weddings, baptisms, confirmations and funerals.

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Javed Iqbal

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