Five-year-old Jesse Rice Jr. performs Lekwungen traditional dance at the Langford Aboriginal Day Festival last year. Metchosin is hosting its own celebration this year with Beecher Bay First Nation on Aboriginal Day, including Elder Witnessing, singing and drumming, story-telling and children’s activities. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Metchosin and Beecher Bay celebrate Aboriginal Day

Combined celebration marks another positive step in the relationship between the two communities

While these two neighbours haven’t always been the best of friends, that’s certainly changed in recent years.

In the wake of what many called a historic land deal earlier this year, the District of Metchosin and Beecher Bay First Nation will celebrate their Aboriginal Day and their continued friendship Wednesday evening.

The Reconciliation Celebration is a sign that any neighbourly disputes of the past are well in the rear view mirror, and both municipalities are eager to celebrate together according to Metchosin Coun. Loralea Milne.

The new-found relationship between the two municipalities began late last decade according to Milne, leading to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2010.

“We’ve had ongoing discussions with them over a number of years, culminating in the land transfer,” she said, referring to the deal that also included the City of Langford. “We decided that this would be the perfect time for our two communities to get together and to celebrate all that has happened with us in the last seven or eight years.”

Milne says that the shift towards an amicable relationship happened when the District and Beecher Bay reached out to each other as friends and as neighbours rather than as governments.

“In more of a casual way than as a strictly formal protocol-driven way. It fits really well with the way that Metchosin council works and the way that Beecher Bay council works,” she noted.

“The [land deal] couldn’t have happened unless we’d built this relationship over the years.”

Milne also points to a joint council meeting just prior to Metchosin’s January referendum on the land swap as a watershed moment for the friendship, which saw many Metchosinites show support for the Nation.

“Our residents really did buy into this whole new relationship,” she said.

Storytelling, Elder Witnessing, performances from school children and kids activities will highlight the event, which also features a salmon barbecue. The communities will also exchange official flags, which Milne says is possibly a first for Canada, as neither the province or the federal government has been able to answer any questions about protocol.

“We’re breaking new ground in a lot of ways here,” she said.

Beecher Bay was unavailable for comment before the Gazette’s press deadline.

Twitter: @joelgazette

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