EDITORIAL: Aboriginal Day still marked by a great sadness

Local First Nations slowly gaining the acknowledgement they deserve

This week we celebrated National Aboriginal Day in many ways, shapes and forms. The region was filled with celebrations acknowledging local cultures and showcasing traditions that are all too often overlooked.

While there was lots to celebrate, the day was also marked by a sadness that many will never truly understand.

After listening to elders share their own experiences of culture loss, destruction of heritage and the extinction of what were integral traditions, it became very clear that past wrong doings are still very fresh in the minds of many.

It will take generations for some of that damage to be repaired – a process that will not happen overnight. But it does seem that recently there has been a genuine shift to acknowledges all of the groups that have traditionally called our region home. It’s a refreshing change from the politically-motivated lip service that is all these groups often get.

This year’s celebrations were extra special for some as they marked the 20th anniversary and highlighted some local success stories. On Tuesday the M’akola groups hosted the grand opening of their new office spaces and the addition of 36 affordable housing units for aboriginal families. Elders from across the region joined them to bless the site, share some of their personal stories and talk about what this project, and others like it will do to help local families thrive. For many, it is a much needed roof over their heads.

The complex, now proudly on display at 550 Goldstream Ave., complete with art adorning its side, is a testament of what can be accomplished when an organization gets the support it needs from the community, and in this case a great deal of support from the City of Langford. The project could not have been completed by one group, especially not in the 11 months it took to erect the building. The old adage is true, it really does take a village to raise a child. Now, 36 families will soon feel that support and hopefully relish in their new homes.

While it is only a small number of the families that are searching for affordable accommodations, it’s a start. We still have a long way to go in the big picture, but this project is a small step in the right direction.

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