Louis Thomas dropped in to the Archives with his daughter Emily one day this winter. The park was a little snowy. He wasn’t expected. I’ve learned not to expect Louis. I put aside the unpacking. It is always a delight to talk with one of my favourite people.

Louis was on a mission. I’d messaged him with a request. That wasn’t so out of the ordinary. I am in the business of asking favours of people. Louis and I are friends on Facebook and I often ask him for help. Most recently it was for a review of the Children’s Museum plan. He’d been part of the committee meeting over the planning process. He’d been a significant contributor to the design that developed. Louis suggested that the theme for the Children’s Museum focus on water. He was right. It was a unifying theme centered on the environment, geography, and people of the Shuswap.

This time I asked Louis if he’d consider formalizing our relationship. I’ve been working with him since his mother, Mary, introduced us in 1991. Mary and I were working on an exhibit. Mary convinced Louis to make some tule mats for me for a display on camping on the Shuswap.

I messaged Louis and asked him to be my cultural advisor. Big title, a lot of glory, but little financial reward. His response was typical. He didn’t mince words.

“We can talk about it,” he texted back.

So it wasn’t a surprise when Louis dropped in. He looked at the new archives work room. A fancy big space, he commented. He was used to seeing us in the cramped office in the old museum.

We sat down at our new work table.

“I’ve been thinking about it,” Louis started, “and I thought to myself that you’ve finally offered me a title for a job I’ve been doing for 19 years!”

Louis was right. He’d always been there, answering my questions whenever I had them. He showed up for exhibit openings when I ask him to. He spoke at our Annual General Meetings when asked. Louis is a storyteller. He keeps all audiences entertained while reminding us seriously that it is up to all of us to take care of Mother Earth.

Louis has a bit of his mother in him. He is a gentle soul who reminds us that we are in this together. That we should be telling our joint histories at the Village.

So when Museum Board Member Garry Landers invited Louis and others to present an idea for the West Bay Trails to the board this month, he came. He brought another daughter along, Christina, named for her Great Grandmother. Louis spoke about all the deaths of Secwepemc people along the railway track. He talked about partnerships with Adams Lake, Little Shuswap Lake, and Neskonlith Indian Bands, the City of Salmon Arm, the Province of BC and the Federal Government.

President Norma Harisch asked for me to speak to an item on the agenda. It was number 3 under new business. The Board officially appointed Louis Thomas as my Cultural Advisor. The motion passed unanimously and I know, in my heart of hearts, he is really advising all of us at R.J. Haney Heritage Village.

Thank you Louis.