Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre is in dire need of a home. The unfortunate efforts of the nation to accommodate us have failed numerous times. We are left out to hang, off of the Coqualeetza site, with all our ancestors implements and data, with no resolution in site. On the horizon we hope to purchase an affordable portable and move back on site where we belong.
The story of Coqualeetza as passed down through oral histories and stories, a significant tradition of the Sto:lo.
Thousands of years ago Kw'eqwalith'a was the name we gave to this place on the Luckakuck River. Kw'eqwalith'a means "cleansing place". Before the immigrants came to our area our ancestors would come to this spot to wash their blankets, and to talk to one another about what was happening in those days. They learned from each other. Today, we call this place Coqualeetza. It is still a Sto:lo place. We still come here from around the Valley to meet with each other.
The cultural centre has played and continues to play a significant role in the lives of the Sto:lo people and the general community. The elders play a key role in Sto:lo communities and in self-government initiatives. The cultural centre has operated for 33 years and will continue to have a significant role within the Sto:lo communities. Life long friendships were formed, marriages tranpired, skills and education learned, jobs created, and history and culture tauight and identities as Sto:lo people fashioned. Many, many people became part of the rich and valuable history of Coqualeetza and being part of the accomplishments achieved over the years has given a sense of pride, honour and respect within each individual. It is particularly important to recognize the Elders of yesterday and today for the commitment and dedication to the Board and staff of the centre because they are the reason we exist today and will continue to exist for time immemorial.
History of the Coqualeetza Property
April 16, 1869 Crown Asset, 150 acres, issued to Ann McColl
1869-1892 parts of property sold to Mr. A.C. Wells and Mr. Horatio Webb
1882, Methodist Church acquired 33.9 acres
1884 Charles Tate, Methodist missionary established the Coqualeetza Home for
native students, land was given to him by a Skowkale Chief; 40 students attended
1891 December 3rd, home was destroyed by fire. Tate's received $4,000.00
from the insurance; they reconstructed with contribution received from
Missionary Society, Dominion government, General Board, Women's Missionary.
1893 April 26, Thomas Hooper completed the plans for new school and 1894
INAC contributes $2500.00
The Coqualeetza Industrial Institute was established, 120 students attended
staff of eight teachaers; second largest Indian residential school in Canada;
Methodist Church held 87 acres
1910 Methodist Church fell into economic hardship; forced to sell portions of the
land to private and government sector, maintained indian school
1923 The school burned down; federal government committed to rebuild in
exchange for land
1924 A new school was built
1939/41 School was phased out; 1941 converted to Coqualeetza Hospital, first
indian tuberculosis centre
1948 North wing destroyed by fire; reconstruction of hospital completed in 1951
1968 Hospital closed
1969 Skowkale First Nation occupied the building
The Sto:lo have been negotiating with Treasury Board for the property to be
transferred back to the Sto:Lo and given reserve status. At the time of this
writing, the official transfer has not occurred.