The Okanagan Heritage Museum will have a different sound on Feb. 26.
Los Tours Del Museo (The Museum Tours) is back and hosted by the museum’s services coordinator Maria Garcia, entirely in Spanish. It is in celebration of B.C. Heritage Week running from Feb. 21-27.
Garcia had a very successful career in Mexico in education and communications before moving to Canada with her husband a decade ago. Right away, she had a lot of trouble finding a job in her field and started working in areas where she didn’t have much experience. Her life changed again in 2020 when Garcia and her husband moved from Edmonton to Kelowna and she found the museum.
“I love 9the Okanagan Heritage Museum). This place, the people in this place, make you feel like you belong right away. I didn’t feel like an outsider,” said Garcia. “And I am doing things that are more my thing. I have the chance to speak Spanish… to people. So, to me, these tours are like a personal and professional resurrection.”
She started the Spanish-based tour in 2021 but thought Heritage week would be the right time to bring it back. The tour takes visitors through the natural and human history of the Okanagan Valley as well as learning about biodiversity, First Nations and early settlers. Since the start, the response from Kelowna’s Hispanaphone community has been nothing but positive.
“If this is our new home, we have to understand what happened here. Why people are the way they are, the history, the problems—all the things that have happened here, so we can feel that we belong. Because when you don’t understand, when you don’t know, it’s like you’re a foreigner all the time. These tours are a way of integrating and helping people understand the history of the area,” she said.
Garcia and the museum also believe this gives people a chance to meet and connect with new people when interaction has been limited over the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tour is running from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26 and is the admission by donation.