Sacred Heart Church – Akisqnuk Village

by underswansea


Last night I put a picture of Sacred Heart Church on this blog. I had removed the blue in Photoshop. The sky appeared red. It was an attempt at making the photo more appealing or even shocking. I had had a few beers and I’m not sure what I was thinking. When it comes to photos I prefer documentary.  I took the photo down in the early, sober morning. But, it stuck with me what I had done.


I took these photos a few weeks ago. It was cold. It was in the morning, moonless and the Milky Way was returning over the mountains to the east. I am careful when I walk on Akisqnuk land. They have had most of it taken from them.

Sacred Heart Church is located at the Akisqnuk Village. At one time, houses surrounded the church. In winter, the Nicholas family children used to build a rink near its walls. Pete would practice pitching against the attached shed in the summer.

A cemetery is located beyond the church.

Pete went on to become the most naturally gifted athlete the Columbia Valley has seen.

The church was built, on the other side of the 1900’s, by Father Nicholas Coccola, a Catholic Missionary, who left France for British Columbia in the summer of 1880.

Father Coccola had a bell cast for the church, which was inscribed: “Sacred Heart Church. Columbia Lake Reserve, Reverend N. Coccola, O.H.I. Rector” and the date when the bell was cast – “1899”. The bell was stolen from the church in October of 1979.

The church and village is no longer used.

It is hard to know what this building, from another time, means to the Ktunaxa people. Does it represent pain, hope, resentment, faith…

Regardless, it should be treated with respect.