Letters to the Editor: Categorical denial of allegations

Re: Heirlooms at the Creston Museum

As you are aware, Facebook postings are appearing related to controversy about governance by the board of directors at the Creston Museum. Accusations are being made that certain board members are plotting to take ownership of the museum or cause some harm to the ‘Museum.’

One particular posting, cited below, has been in circulation on a local business Facebook page for several days.

“Why are we doing nothing??? If Mister Kurata the President joined the museum to loot the heirlooms given to the museum for prosperity, then Todd is right. Where are the Hepner firearms we inherited two years ago? Where are the RCMP? Has anybody heard of a search warrant? If Mr. President goes to jail he won’t be bullying people. We have to speak out or be bullied.”

I was elected president of the ‘Creston Museum’ April 13, 2023, having served on the board of directors holding the offices of treasurer and vice-president at different times and making personal donations of $500 annually for several years. More significantly, my time volunteering since 2014 exceeds one thousand hours, from menial dump runs to the major undertaking of moving the Murphy machine shop heavy machinery at my expense with my equipment. I was asked to join the board as there was a need for governance volunteers.

Recently with the ‘Museum’ under threat of lawsuit for breach of copyright, I have spent in excess of forty hours of my personal time, and Dr. Louis Knafla past president has given even more of his time on this copyright matter, to protect the museum and save the former manager from personal liability.

I categorically deny the accusation /insinuation that I am looting at the Museum and have stolen the ‘Hepner firearms.’

In 2021 our Museum was given the opportunity to accept firearms from the Galt Museum, Lethbridge, once the property of Lt. William Lawson Hepher, M.C., F.A. {(Spec. Res.), attd A/223rd (H.C.) Bde R.F.A.,T.F.} a long time resident of the Creston Valley. Rejected from enlistment because of varicose veins, he paid for surgery so that he might enlist, and left his sanctuary in the Valley to serve as a private and earn his commission. His Military Cross commendation below is but a vignette of his long, dedicated service on the battlefield throughout W.W. 1.

“During an exceptionally intense period of shelling, when two detachments of his battery had been scattered, he took the place of No. 2 at one of his guns and kept it in action during a S.O.S. call. His example of gallantry and devotion to duty at a very trying moment was most timely, and steadied the men, who were shaken by the heavy shelling.”

Our manager and board members, myself included, showed reluctance to accept these historical ‘Hepher’ artifacts because there was a stigma with firearms and accessioning was a complicated process. When I educated myself on their national and local historical significance, I completely reversed my position and made a commitment to the board to personally attend to the decommissioning and acquisition of these marvelous artifacts, symbols of dedication and courage, when the manager declined to assume the task.

I communicated the Museum’s acceptance of the artifacts in the fall of 2021 and had extensive dealings with the Provincial Firearms Officers, RCMP in Alberta and British Columbia, the gunsmith in B.C. that would decommission the firearms, and the curator/technician at the Galt Museum. I have attended the Galt Museum in Lethbridge personally at my own expense to advance the required lawful shipping of the firearms to British Columbia and exercised constant diligence to assure these highly desirable artifacts are not compromised.

To my knowledge these firearms remain in the lawful custody and possession of Weber and Markin, Gunsmiths, Kelowna, and patriation to the Creston Museum should happen soon.

This process has been painfully slow but is nearing completion. Throughout I have entertained the dream that these decommissioned firearms could be presented on Remembrance Day at a special event coordinated with the Legion honouring the unique life of Lt. Hepher. Let us all hope it might happen this year.

Thank you for publishing this account of my lawful dealings with the Hepher firearms.

Yours truly

Lucien A. ‘Luke’ Kurata

Pres. / Chair