Congratulations to the 2020 Recipients of the BCMA Awards for Outstanding Achievement!

 October 9, 2020

The BC Museums Association (BCMA) handed out its Awards for Outstanding Achievement on Thursday, October 8, during its 49th annual Awards Showcase. This year’s virtual conference attracted a record number of museum professionals and industry representatives from across the province who came to explore innovative exhibitions, community collaboration, and exemplary service to the sector. The BCMA’s annual awards recognize institutions and individuals who exemplify excellence in the province’s museums, galleries and history community.


The Distinguished Service Award

This award recognizes an individual who has made a unique and outstanding contribution on a regional, provincial or national basis to the museum, gallery, archives or heritage field over an extended period of time.


Francois Arseneault -Vernon Cadet Camp Museum

Francois Arseneault has dedicated his time to collect, showcase and create a museum for the preservation of Cadet History in the Vernon Area.

Barbara Bell -The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives

Barbara Bell has served the Greater Vernon area and larger museum community, and has occupied a plethora of roles, from archivist, to education coordinator, to mentor. Her knowledge and dedication has provided an unparalleled service to both our institution and to the community of Vernon.

Gerald Borden – Heritage Abbotsford Society

Gerry Borden has been a proponent for heritage conservation, and an advocate for museum professionals, both professionally and, in retirement, as a devoted volunteer.

Julie Fowler – Island Mountain Arts / ArtsWells Festival 

As the Executive and Artistic Director of Island Mountain Arts, Julie Fowler has established herself as a community leader, cultural champion, social innovator and visionary.


Barbara Bell, Head Archivist at The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, received a Distinguished Service Award. Bell was selected by the awards committee in recognition of her lifetime of service and tireless dedication to inspiring and engaging others. Her many hours spent volunteering and mentoring are remarkable and she has made a significant impact on a whole generation of museum workers.

Julie Fowler, Executive and Artistic Director of Island Mountain Arts, received a Distinguished Service Award. Fowler has made significant contributions in a wide range of arts & culture organisations across BC and has demonstrated incredible energy, commitment and hard work. The committee was impressed by the scope of her impact, not just on the festival she created but on all the artists and performers the festival has helped bring to prominence.


Award of Merit – Excellence in Community Engagement

This Award of Merit recognizes a recent outstanding success in community engagement, as demonstrated by ongoing participation of new audiences, new partnerships with community organisations, supporting needs of the community, etc through innovative programming. Programming may be exhibit-based, school-oriented, stand-alone, or focused on volunteer engagement, etc; it may be delivered on-site, off-site, or both. New audiences and community partners should be defined by the nominated museum with respect to its own capacity, community, and audience history.


Isolate and Create Platform – Greater Vernon Museum & Archives.

Facing the COVID19 pandemic, a shared vision for a creative online platform connects and inspires a community.

Critter Convos & Collection Vault Convos -The Exploration Place.

With the onset of COVID-19, this live video project has allowed us to maintain engagement and connect with our audience in a new and innovative way.

Museum of Surrey’s Three Year Punjabi Community Engagement – The Museum of Surrey.

Successful engagement with Surrey’s Punjabi community led to a feature exhibit, several small exhibits, numerous programs, and resulted in the Museum of Surrey attracting new audiences.

Indigenous Contemporary Art Education & Engagement – Surrey Art Gallery.

Surrey Art Gallery’s continual commitment to furthering Indigenous contemporary arts education and engagement is long-term, rooted in meaningful critical thinking, and serves the community and public.


The Museum of Surrey received the Award of Merit, Excellence in Community Engagement for their three-year engagement with the Punjabi community in Surrey, BC. The exhibit Being Punjabi: Unfolding the Surrey Story is a wonderful example of an exhibit curated in a collaborative manner, that brought community stories to a broader audience and generated a heartfelt interest in a unique and vibrant culture by foregrounding, prioritizing, and empowering the community as co-curators and programming leads “The Being Punjabi exhibit project was unique because it presented the unfiltered voices of community members, as gathered, rather then just taking into consideration feedback from community,” says Colleen Sharpe, project leader and Curator of Exhibits, Museum of Surrey. “Being Punjabi: Unfolding the Surrey Story invites continued dialogue about what it means to be Punjabi in Surrey – past, present and future. The exhibit is a tribute to Punjabi community members who came forward to share their stories. Above all, it is an invitation to celebrate diversity in Surrey, and a call to challenge the assumptions we make about each other.”

Community contribution included The Punjabi Advisory Committee, Balbir Gurm, Ranbir Johal, Raj Lally, Moninder Lalli, Steven Purewal, and Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra;  exhibit text writers: Steven Purewal, Moninder Lalli, Ranbir Johal, Sharanjit Sandhra, Balraj Kahlon, Balbir Kaur Gurm, Naveen Girn, Bob Mann, Charan Gill, Balkaran Singh, Kal Dosanjh, Raj Thandi, Saira Kanwal, Anita Lal, Fauzia Rafique; audio storyteller Lady B (Bali K Deo); and the many dozens of community members and artists who lent items for the exhibit and participated in video interviews.


Award of Merit – Excellence in Exhibitions

This Award of Merit recognizes a recent outstanding, innovative, and/or creative achievement in any and all aspects of exhibition development and design, including content and curatorial choices; presentation, organisation and format; interpretation (including exhibit-based signage, publications, live interpretation/performance, web-based interpretation, etc); community relevance; etc. Exhibitions may be permanent or temporary, on-site, off-site, or online; they may be of any size from a single display case to a collection of historic buildings. Creativity and innovation should be measured against the nominated museum’s own capacity and exhibit history; it may reflect an all-new approach to museology in general, or it may reflect an individual museum doing something it has never done before.


Acts of Resistance – Museum of Vancouver

Acts of Resistance dramatically showcases the link between art, land stewardship, and Indigenous activism on the Northwest Coast.

Being Punjabi: Unfolding the Surrey Story exhibit- Museum of Surrey

Being Punjabi: Unfolding the Surrey Story feature exhibition used an innovative and ground-breaking methodology to provide agency and voice to a historically marginalized community.

Exhibition, Design for Living: West Coast Modern Homes Revisited – West Vancouver Art Museum

This project uniquely celebrates designers and homeowners’ efforts to preserve modernist homes constructed during a nationally-recognized period of intense innovation on the West Coast.

A Mountain Biking Retrospective – Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History

A Mountain Biking Retrospective: 25 years of TA Mountain Biking Retrospective: 25 years of Tales, Trails and Bails was an outstanding exhibition that showcased relevant history and expanded community engagement. ales, Trails and Bails was an outstanding exhibition that showcased relevant history and expanded community engagement.

Redress: Sacred Obligation- Indigenous Voices on Reconciliation – Two Rivers Gallery and Independent Indigenous curator Rose M. Spahan

Redress: was an exhibition that drew attention to experiences with Residential Schools and their legacy embodied in the work of 22 Indigenous artists.

Treasured Belongings: The Hahn Family & the Search for a Stolen Legacy – Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

An original and artefact-rich exhibition about personal and cultural loss, reconciliation in the aftermath of injustice, and intergenerational relations in the context of the Holocaust.


Two Rivers Gallery and Independent Indigenous curator Rose M. Spahan received the Award of Merit, Excellence in Exhibitions for their exhibit, Redress: Sacred Obligation – Indigenous Voices on Reconciliation.  “Redress was a very important exhibition that focused on residential schools and the impact they had on Indigenous people across Canada for well over a hundred years. Their impact is deeply felt to this day. Rose Spahan, and the Two Rivers Gallery team, including myself, are thrilled to receive this award in honour of the twenty-two artists whose work was incorporated into this exhibition and the countless Indigenous people for whom these stories resonate. Many in our community worked with this project and we are very grateful for their support,” says co-curator George Harris, Two Rivers Gallery.

The exhibition featured work by Mike Alexander, (Anishnaabe); Kristy Auger, (nêhiyaw [Plains Cree]); Crystal Behn-Dettieh, (Dene/ Carrier); Margaret Briere, (Coast Salish); Liz Carter, (Kwakwaka’wakw); Lee Claremont, (Mohawk, Six Nations); Joane Cardinal-Schubert, (Blackfoot, Kainai); Waabi Makoohns- James Darin Corbiere, (Anishinaabe); Emily Dundas Oke (Cree/ Métis/ Scottish); TEMOSEN- Charles Elliot, (T’sartlip); Karen Erickson, (Métis/ Cree); Pat Gauthier (Secwepmec [Shuswap]); Monique Hurteau, (Muskowekwan/ Cree/ Ojibway/ Métis); Carla Joseph (Métis/ Cree); Keith Kerrigan (Haida); lessLIE, (Coast Salish); Lou-ann Neel, (Kwakwaka’wakw); Carey Newman, (Kwakwaka’wakw/ Coast Salish/ English/ Irish/ Scottish); Jennifer Annaïs Pighin, (Lheidli T’enneh/ Wet’suwet’en/ French Canadian/ Italian); Lenard Paquette (Cree/ Métis); Patricia June Vickers, (Ts’msyen); and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, (Coast Salish/ Okanagan). The progressive and fundamentally artist-driven nature of exhibition development and engagement exemplifies the transformative potential of museums and galleries.


Honourable Mention for Impact and Engagement

This honorable mention recognizes exhibits, programming, and other projects that foreground relevance, engagement, and collaboration with community and stakeholders.

Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History, received an Honorable Mention for Impact and Engagement for their exhibition A Mountain Biking Retrospective. This exhibit responded to an unexplored yet vital part of the community’s identity and contemporary cultural development. “Touchstones Nelson Museum, and the entire mountain bike community of Nelson and area, are thrilled to receive this recognition. Thank you! The list of individuals, trail builders, riders, local mountain bike stars, community groups, mountain bike associations throughout the Kootenays, artists, filmmakers, historians, and businesses that contributed to this exhibition is exceptional—it was truly built by those who created this history, and further form the mountain bike culture today. A special thank you to Darren Davidson, Deb MacKillop, Freeride Entertainment, Sacred Rides, NRG Enterprises, the Nelson Cyclin Club, and Pinkbike,” says Astrid Heyerdahl, Curator of A Mountain Biking Retrospective and Executive Director of Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History. The exhibit was multi-faceted and strategically executed. This museum understood its community and stimulated museum interest by exploring an activity many in the community embraced wholeheartedly.


Congratulations to all nominees and winners!