The Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre was one of a half a dozen groups that received National Trust for Canada honours at a ceremony in Fredericton during the fall.
The National Trust Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award for resilient historic places – awarded to Ancient Echoes for conserving the Coal Mine Ravine – goes to organizations that maintain such locations in a significant, sustainable way while benefiting a community over a period of 10 years or more.
The award was for preserving petroglyphs and other geological and First Nations archeological sites in the ravine and “nothing to do with the building,” said Carmel Waddington, who chaired the centre board for four and a half years but resigned last year.
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“To be recognized for our contribution to protecting a heritage site at a national level is really a big deal,” added Crystal Craig, who now chairs the board and attended the ceremony, as did Cheralyn Wiens and David Neufeld.
The presentation occurred during a conference of from 400 to 500 delegates from across the country who work in heritage protection, Craig said.
Lacey Weekes, who grew up near Biggar and works with Nature Saskatchewan, nominated Ancient Echoes, Waddington said, adding that Neufeld filled out the relevant documentation and sent it in.
The Indian Head opera house, the Saskatchewan legislature dome restoration and the “Diefenbunker” in Ottawa were among other locations honoured.
Groups had a chance to outline their work. The Ancient Echoes group showed a video, spoke briefly “and thanked them very much for the award,” Craig said.
“The award actually says that we were given the award because of our exemplary heritagee stewardship toward a historic site in a sustainable manner, which means that we had put things in place to make sure the site would continue to be protected for today and into the future,” she said.
“For myself, being involved in the project as long as I have been, I was very proud of the fact that we were being recognized and I was especially pleased for those volunteers who have been with the project from the very beginning,” she said. “That included David Neufeld, Cheralyn Wiens and Carmel.”
The ceremony happened in the Beaverbrook Gallery – “an amazing place” and “was just an amazing thing to attend and see what people had done,” Waddington said. “They treated us so wonderfully down there and we really felt very important. We didn’t feel like we were a little part of it at all.”
In a statement, board members expressed great appreciation to all who contributed in any way over the years, including as volunteers, sponsors, landowners, board members, past and present staff members, donors and guests.
“We are pleased to continue to serve you as well as this land, and the incredible history tied to it, for many more years to come,” the statement said.
For next season at the centre, “We’re working with a group out of Saskatoon that has more aboriginal elders in their group, to bring more authenticity to some of our programming,” Craig said. “We’re really excited about that.”