Acts of reconciliation have become a nationwide exercise in righting the wrongs of our colonial past, and Powell River is one small city that is leading the efforts.
Due to the community's close ties to Tla'amin Nation, and the first nation's inspiring journey to self-governance in April 2016, Powell River has been fortunate to undertake acts of reconciliation that are now having accumulative effects on our community.
One shining example is the Hɛhɛwšɩn (The Way Forward) Reconciliation Canoe Journey Project that officially began on September 21 and has been in the works for several months.
The project was spearheaded by resident Phil Russell and has been unfolding on Willingdon Beach for the past few weeks. Including master carver Joe Martin from Tofino and four carvers under his mentorship, the project has already realized its intention to create a meaningful understanding of reconciliation through community participation.
Carvers have been working on a large traditional canoe and have invited the community down to the site during the process. A ceremony on Saturday, November 18, will include the gifting of the finished canoe to Tla'amin Nation. The canoe will be used by Tla'amin for their participation in a first nations canoe journey that happens every summer and includes thousands of first nations people.
Another significant act of reconciliation may come in the form of a name change for Powell River Regional District, if approved by the provincial government. The regional district board has approved a name change to qathet Regional District, from the Tla'amin word meaning "working together." The word qathet was offered to the regional district by Tla'amin elders and would reflect the spirit of collaboration in which the three local governments have committed to during Tla'amin's journey to and through self-governance.
According to Tla'amin Health aboriginal child and family counsellor Cyndi Pallen, "reconciliation is not for indigenous peoples but for Canadians."
Many residents of Powell River know this in their hearts and are stepping up to do what is right. It will be a long, challenging path toward reconciliation, but it is encouraging to know that we are committed to taking it.
Jason Schreurs, publisher/editor