The first phase of public engagement about the history and the future of the names we will give this land is complete, and I am heartened by the sincere attachment to this beautiful land we all share.
Being born and raised here, I understand… and I am proud of where I come from. My best memories include attending Kings’ hockey games against the Nanaimo Clippers and the Port Alberni Bulldogs.
This is our home; we are all connected to it and we all take pride in it.
During this extended process, we have received hundreds of letters, carried out a community survey and participated in several open mic meetings with officials from the municipality, residents of the region and members of the Tla’amin Nation.
We will shortly publish a report on what we have heard and are ready to begin a period of reflection.
I myself am going to take time to digest all I have heard and ask what I have learned from this process. What new teachings have come to me? What am I seeing differently now?
I do this because I have been listening, as have many in our communities. We are all looking to build understanding.
National Indigenous Peoples Day calls on us to pause and recognize that we will only move forward if we work together in a respectful and meaningful way.
There is no room for conflict, no space for negative words between neighbours. We must hear each other’s concerns and meaningfully come to a collaborative resolution, meeting in the middle to address issues.
Perhaps we can start by recognizing the current place name was not collaboratively selected by all the then residents of the qathet region. And acknowledge this was not the right way to create community.
Together we can show how powerful a meaningful government to government working relationship can be and leave past toxicities behind us in a way that respects everyone’s history and culture.
I have faith we can do this and look forward to doing this work together, but only after a period of reflection.
Longer days and brighter skies are coming, and with them a chance to enjoy what unites us, the beauty of where we live.
John Hackett is hegus of Tla’amin Nation. June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day.