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Charla Huber: There are good reasons for the $789-million museum project

One outcome of our pandemic ­experience is disconnect, and it’s not surprising.
CEO Alicia Dubois speaks at the announcement of funding for a new Royal B.C. Museum. Charla Huber writes that just because the $789 million budgeted for the project could be used for other things, it doesn't mean the museum plan isn't valid. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

One outcome of our pandemic ­experience is disconnect, and it’s not surprising. ­During the pandemic, we’ve been asked to stay home, limit contact with others, opt for video conferencing rather than ­in-person meetings, and wear masks to create physical barriers between ­ourselves and others.

I am not against any of these things — I have supported them all along. They were important to keep us safe, but also apart.

We should be acknowledging this disconnect because I think it has made people less flexible and more ­judgmental of others. The more time we spend alone, the more we get immersed in our own views and experiences and have less exposure to differing perspectives.

Like we’ve seen for years with ­internet trolls, people can hide behind a keyboard and say things to people that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. It’s easy when things are one-sided, and you don’t need to be a witness to the reaction of others.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” also comes into play. When you are ­isolated from others, it is harder to see someone else’s point of view, or even know there may be another point of view. Being saturated with your own thoughts and views can leave you with the feeling that your views are the only correct ones.

There are more things in this world that I don’t have a clue about than things I know. I can’t judge someone or their decisions if I am not privy to all the­ ­information.

In this past week, I have received emails regarding the new plans for the Royal B.C. Museum. Interestingly, I hadn’t written about it, or chimed in on social media. Maybe it’s because of the Indigenous focus, because I am an ­Indigenous person and somehow, I need to know why people think it’s a bad idea.

When we look at the costs of replacing the museum, it’s a lot of money, and there are many people who think that money could be spent elsewhere.

I am sure there are many things that $789 million could be spent on. Even if that is true, it doesn’t make the museum project less valid.

In a conversation I witnessed a few months ago, someone was speaking of their support for the “defund the police” movement. They referenced the annual budget of the police department in their community and said: “If we took all that money and put it into parks, we could do a lot.”

We can’t oversimplify the issues with this type of thinking. Of course, you could do a lot with those funds, but that does not factor in ensuring public safety.

If you donated your entire annual income to charity, it could make a big impact on the community. Also, if you donated your entire income, you wouldn’t be able to support and care for yourself or your family.

Before you write me and say that your annual income and the museum project or police budgets aren’t comparable, I get it. It’s an analogy.

There are reasons why the museum project is moving forward, and they include a safer building that is more inclusive and accessible to ­community members, a commitment to ­reconciliation, and honouring the history and diversity of our province in a better way.

I am certain there was a lot of ­consideration put into this ­decision, and there is merit and benefit to the ­community. I don’t have all the ­information, or know all the details.

It’s important for all of us to ­acknowledge that before we throw stones.