In 1990, the Museum Association at RJ Haney Heritage Village was looking for a curator/activist at the Salmon Arm Museum. Deborah Chapman got the job. With her wry, self deprecating humor, she says she didn’t know bathrooms were involved. Today, she still holds the position and is famous for her cemetery tours.
After high school in Kamloops, B.C., Deborah and her husband Dennis Zachernuk, moved to Nova Scotia. She attended St. Mary’s University; Dennis went to Dalhousie. He earned a law degree and Deborah a degree in archeology, as well as a diploma in Early Childhood Education from the Nova Scotia Teachers College. During the seven years they lived in student housing with two kids, Deborah ran a babysitting co-op whose members exchanged labour and helped run a food co-op as well. She volunteered at The Citadel, cataloguing historic archeological artefacts.
Westerners at heart, Deborah and Dennis returned to Vancouver after obtaining their degrees. Where their third child was born, then moved to Prince George. There she got involved in kids’ activities and non-profits, sitting on the Little League board, volunteering in schools and as a Beaver leader. She founded and ran a family daycare. She volunteered at the Fraser Fort George Regional Museum, where she took her first museum course. She continued with the museum and archival studies after the family moved to Salmon Arm in 1989, Where Dennis took up a position with a legal firm.
Debra carried on with her volunteer work, chairing the board of the Salmon Arm Sockeyes Swim Club and continuing to help the schools her children attended. In 1991 she began collecting hearing aids for the third world countries after her godmother introduced her to the program. She became a volunteer with the Salmon Arm Community Heritage Commission in 2009 and she’s been the regional representative of the Archives Association of BC is for the past eight years. Being socially responsible and the Chapman family trait; volunteerism is a way of life for her.
Deborah was recently credited with a staff writer byline by the Salmon Arm Observer newspaper, probably, she says because she’s written so many articles for the paper. “Must be volunteer work too, because I haven’t seen a paycheck yet” she said with her tongue wedged firmly in her cheek. She and Dennis now have two granddaughters who lives with their parents in Japan that they don’t see often enough. They also have two surrogate grandchildren here in Salmon Arm and Deborah loves volunteering in their classroom. They’ve already created their first Museum exhibit.
In 2006 Deborah was invited to volunteer on the Shuswap Community Foundation Grants Committee, working under the tutelage of Louis Higgins. She had been helping the Chase Museum write grant applications and wanted to help other small charitable organizations access grants to fund their activities in the communities. She was appointed to the board in 2008 and took over as Chair of Grants Selection and Grants in Aid Committees in 2009, a position she continues to hold.
“If we work together we can make a big difference and that difference can make our community a better place.” Deborah has spent a lifetime making her Community a better place while her community continues to shape her. Shuswap Community Foundation if indeed a fortunate to have a person of Deborah integrity and compassion on it’s board.