ONE movement calls for joint management of parks that fall within the traditional territories of Vancouver’s First Nations community will be debated at a park board meeting later this month.
Park Board Chairman Stuart Mackinnon, who proposes the proposal, does not specify how park areas on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh land will be managed together, but says it is delayed by about 300 years.
“I think it’s important, as we recognize reconciliation in this country, that the land that Vancouver sits on was occupied land,” Mackinnon said.
“We should have discussions with them about how they see the land, how they view land use, and what we as settlers can learn from the land.”
‘A big step,’ says Squamish Nation
Unity is a step in the right direction for inclusion and action regarding reconciliation, says Squamish First Nations Councilor and Spokesman Sxwíxwtn (Wilson Williams).
“This is a big step in acknowledging and correcting the mistakes of the past,” Williams told CBC’s The early edition.
He says that while there is still a long way to go, the proposal helps build better relationships with the Vancouver Park Board.
Currently, it is difficult to influence land use or resource management in Vancouver parks, Williams says.
“If it is not recognized as our traditional territory or reserve areas. It is very challenging, but consultation and cooperation has been [moving ahead] in the past few years.”
The proposal states that the park’s board has accepted the calls for action in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report, which includes rejection of concepts used to justify European sovereignty over indigenous peoples and countries.
In a spirit of reconciliation, Williams says, it’s important to share history and identity through a native lens associated with the city’s parks.
“When I see reconciliation, we are in a time of acceptance of the dark story, but also, you know how we have grown together,” he said.
He says there is value not only in connecting to culture and tradition, but also in sharing the language, legends and stories associated with the country.
Compassion, he says, would also provide more insight from seniors and knowledge holders.
“Our indigenous community has our arms open and welcome. Relationship building is building a brighter future for Vancouver.”
Mackinnon says the proposal is an extension of the park board’s continued efforts to consult indigenous communities, which also include a naming policy for parks and beaches, and the formation in 2014 of the Stanley Park Intergovernmental Group to develop a long-term plan for Stanley Park, along with Vancouver First Nations.
The park’s board staff is also in the final stages of developing the first inventory and analysis report on Stanley Park.
Once that is done, Emily Dunlop, the board’s senior planner, says the public will have access to decades of value data, research and analysis about the park, its history and the impact on indigenous communities.
The park board is also consulting with First Nations to open up Canyon Creek from a branch line under northwest Marine Drive and Spanish Banks West parking lot A before exiting into English Bay.
The project will free the creek from the pipe, essentially bury it to provide a new habitat for birds and aquatic species, according to a summary of the project from the park board.
The merger proposal is to be considered on 24 January.