Advertisement

New bridge in Salmon Arm named after respected First Nations elder

The Dr. Mary Thomas Bridge spans across the Salmon River on the new four-laned Trans-Canada Highway alignment across from DeMille’s Farm Market. flickr.com

A new bridge along the Trans-Canada highway in Salmon Arm has been named after a highly respected local Indigenous elder, the late Dr. Mary Thomas.

The Dr. Mary Thomas Bridge spans the Salmon River on the new four-lane Trans-Canada Highway alignment across from DeMille’s Farm Market.

The new bridge is part of improvements to Highway 1 between Kamloops and Alberta. The announcement was made official on Friday by the Minister or Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming, and officials of the Neskonlith Indian Band.

“Dr. Thomas left such an important legacy when it comes to the environment, preservation of Indigenous language and culture and social development,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Click to play video: 'Does Montreal need a new Mercier Bridge and Saint-Pierre interchange?'
Does Montreal need a new Mercier Bridge and Saint-Pierre interchange?

“The naming of this bridge near the community in which Dr. Thomas was raised will be a reminder of her important accomplishments.”

Story continues below advertisement

Dr. Thomas is best remembered as a devoted teacher, environmental enthusiast, a pioneer in early childhood and development and a trail blazer when it came to building relationships across all cultures.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“Dr. Thomas built bridges between people, earning the respect of all who knew her,” said Salmon Arm mayor, Alan Harrison.

“The City of Salmon Arm is honoured to dedicate the naming of the new highway bridge to this extraordinary Neskonlith Elder.”

Click to play video: 'Exposing Inuit residential schools through music'
Exposing Inuit residential schools through music

Born and raised in Salmon Arm, the bridge will serve as a way for everyone to remember her legacy and impact on the community.

“This bridge is a significant bridge because it’s bridging that gap between us and other people,” said Dr. Thomas’ son, Louis Thomas.

Dr. Thomas was also a residential school survivor. She learned about Secwepemc culture from her grandparents. This, and her later work with Elders, led her to become an expert on traditional plants and their uses. Sadly, she passed away in 2007 at the age of 89.

Story continues below advertisement

Finding a way to honour and remember Dr. Thomas has been in the works for several years, until finally deciding on a bridge — as many at the ceremony labelled her as a ‘bridge builder.’

Click to play video: 'Vehicle crash sparks spectacular fireworks show on Highway 1'
Vehicle crash sparks spectacular fireworks show on Highway 1

More developments are underway for Highway 1 in Salmon Arm. Extensive upgrades are set to transform the stretch between 1st Avenue S.W. and 10th Avenue S.W.

These enhancements include revamped intersections, a brand-new interchange at First Nations/Salmon River Road, and the conversion of the adjacent former highway into a frontage road said to cater to the needs of local businesses and residents.

Sponsored content

AdChoices