A historic church near Enderby on Splatsin territory will be moving and getting a makeover.
The Splatsin Development Corporation (SDC) has received received a $500,000 grant from Heritage BC’s 150 Time Immemorial Grant Program and a Rural Development training grant for $100,000 (totaling $600,000) for the relocation and renovating of St. Mary’s Church — a 104-year-old structure located in south Enderby on Splatsin territory.
The training program will permit SDC to hire a Red Seal carpenter to train Splatsin community members on the basics of carpentry while renovating the church.
Splatsin Chief Kukpi7 Doug Thomas is pleased to hear that funding is now in place to successfully move and renovate the church.
“I have been involved with this initiative since my second year on the Splatsin Band council, and it’s been a long time coming,” said Thomas.
“I would like to thank the Elders of our community for requesting the church restoration, Lawrence Williams, SDC, and especially Heritage BC for their assistance.”
Thomas said there are a few details relating to the church’s relocation and restoration that need to be ironed out.
“However, I believe that we will receive a lot of positive input and assistance from our community that will see this project to completion” he said
The new location for the church is currently under review and yet to be determined. An immediate next step to be undertaken by SDC is to proceed with an asbestos assessment consultation and possible asbestos 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, altar, and some of the statues.
In 1916, men from the Splatsin community, along with an Oblate Priest, began to saw trees from the reserve to haul to Armstrong to be milled into lumber. The men used the lumber to build the existing church on Canyon Road at Highway 97A, applying 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 in prayer, weddings, baptisms, confirmations, and funerals.