Growing up here in school, I heard it said over and over: “When will you people just get over it?”
These hurtful words were spoken mostly out of ignorance and mostly as if the harms against our people lived in the past. Well, time will heal all wounds but our recent proposal to rename Powell River would certainly help that process.
Unfortunately, this proposal has ignited a social media storm that has been hurtful to witness.
As the newly elected hegus of Tla’amin Nation, I am anxious to move forward together as a town, a region and as neighbours.
Tla’amin and Powell River share a common future, living and working side by side, but this will be difficult if we let history’s long shadow divide us. I’ve seen and heard the words: “You can’t erase history...this has always been Powell River.”
If we all agree that history is important, then let’s educate ourselves on history and start there.
The question we are bringing forward is: Are Israel Powell’s values the values shared by today’s Powell River? Are they values worth fighting over?
We only need to reflect on marriage to know it’s important to pick one’s battles. Not every fight is of equal importance to both partners. Good marriages, (the ones that last) involve compromise. Sometimes the fact that it’s really important to my partner is enough to make me ask: is this a fight that really matters to me?
I personally do not believe that Israel Powell, a man who never set foot on these shores, represents the people living in Powell River today. We know our neighbours do not share the values of one of the leading architects of anti-Indigenous policies in Canada. You are not trying to take our children, and you don’t want to erase our culture.
So, let’s start from that place.
This is an opportunity for all of us to make our grandkids and future generations proud.
We ask that you stand with us and support this change, maybe not because you agree with it quite yet, but because you recognize that it matters to us, and some things aren’t worth fighting over.
John Hackett was elected as hegus of Tla’amin Nation in October 2020.