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Monday, May 21, 2012

Snuneymuxw First Nation

Letter sent to papers regarding the recent Snuneymuxw Treaty Conference as published.  I used some of my commentary below to formulate the letter.  Bulletin: Recognizing treaty rights strengthens communities   Daily News: Recognizing treaty will benefit all of Nanaimo

I recently attended the Douglas Treaties conference and have to say as a conversation regarding treaties this was most enlightening.  It also was enlightening to see that only one member of our City Council attended the conference and while the Mayor of Lantzville was present our own was not.  Although the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation is having a bit of a tough go it even had a number of board and staff attend.  There was also no representation from the Chamber of commerce.  Do they not get that if we can improve the economic outlook for first nations it will also benefit the broader community and in doing so open up many joint opportunities for both.

Canadians like to think of themselves and the Country being a truly multicultural society tolerant of the race, religion and cultural beliefs of others.  While this may be far truer today Canada’s past, like that of many countries, has not always been reflective of tolerance and in fact has been blatantly discriminatory not just to immigrants but to its own peoples as well.  In fact, if truth be told, it has been far more discriminatory for far longer to its first peoples.

I grew up in a home with a father who was devoutly racist; an equal opportunist who would routinely devalue anyone who was not white and of English ancestry.  At an early age I can often remember him relegating all of Canada’s First Nations to the category ‘drunk Indian’, 'lazy and good for nothing.'  At an early age I also learned to disregard these comments as I had by then seen far more drunk white folk than people of any other race.    
I am often disheartened by the lack of empathy and borderline, sometimes actual, racist statements published in comments to news stories on the internet when it comes to First Nations and Immigrants. Truth be told we all have an immigrant background and should value our own and our shared cultures and history.
For me I have seen the good and the bad in all races.  I value all for what I can learn but I truly respect the honesty and integrity of those that strive to promote the betterment of others.
It is a testament to the strength and fortitude of the Snuneymuxw and other F/N's people that much of their culture and language has survived the attempts of governments to erase and assimilate.  By recognizing treaty rights and working with the Snuneymuxw towards their economic well being we will ultimately strengthen the economic wellbeing of Nanaimo as a whole. It is indeed time to build a future together.
If folk in Nanaimo have been paying attention they will be aware of recent news items regarding the Snuneymuxw and treaty rights.  A number of workshops and information sessions have been held which culminated in a conference at Vancouver Island University.    Word is some of the speakers comments will be posted.

A History of abuse:
Recent News Items: Sneneymuxw (IF these links do not work they can be cut and pasted to google)
Snuneymuxw First Nation
Douglas Treaties

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