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LETTER: Many deserve credit for work toward reconciliation

The recent News article (“Oak Bay compiles data on First Nations references across the landscape”) suggests the start of much-needed action at council toward advancing reconciliation in Oak Bay. Credit for this is due to individual councillors and others in the community for bringing these initiatives forward.

The creation of an inventory of historical plaques and their references to First Peoples is a first step toward reviewing and enhancing them for reconciliation purposes. It’s the result of a November motion from Coun. Andrew Appleton, responding to community requests.

The council motion last spring was about more than adding and honouring Lekwungen place names in Oak Bay, it was also aimed at getting Oak Bay to establish respectful relationships with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. It was the work of Couns. Cairine Green and Tara Ney.

Coun. Esther Paterson’s motion this February to have Oak Bay adopt the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #43 also called for the creation of a council-community reconciliation task force, not just to have “a closer look” at whether one should be formed. It responds to concerns from community members.

The recent news that Oak Bay will work with the Songhees Nation on the future of Willows Beach/Sitchanalth is due to the work of MLA Murray Rankin who suggested the project and brought the nation and district together to make it happen. This kind of collaboration could be applied to the Oak Bay Marina/Spewhung site to engage the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on its significant economic and cultural opportunities.

And the existing First Nations monuments in Oak Bay and tour are the work of community members Marion Cumming and Mike Stacey. Other community-led reconciliation initiatives include Cattle Point and Willows Beach signage, the Sno’uyutth welcome pole at Oak Bay High, and the formation of ReconciliACTION Oak Bay. This demonstrates the depth of community support for council action in this important area.

Our council can now move these initiatives forward; the mayor’s commitment in his 2018 inaugural address made it clear that reconciliation with the Lekwungen Nations should be a priority.

Kris Nichols, president

Community Association of Oak Bay

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