(Black Press file photo)

LETTERS: Present day colonialism on display at LDHS fundraiser

Letter writer expresses concerns over LDHS salmon dinner

RE: Ladysmith Historical Society sees big turnout for salmon dinner fundraiser

The article above, published in last week’s Chronicle, raised some concerns for me that I thought I would share with local readers.

Queen Charlotte Islands is properly named Haida Gwaii meaning “islands of the people”. It was renamed Haida Gwaii and made public knowledge over a decade ago.

Additionally, the fundraiser was successful in part due to, “fresh salmon courtesy of a generous donation by local commercial fisherman Ron Maddin who caught the fish in the waters off the Queen Charlotte Islands and flew the salmon in for the occasion.” Herein exposes a number of issues that relate to present day colonialism, privilege and entitlement. Let me explain.

The article reads as though a “local commercial fisherman” is generously donating salmon from the coasts of Haida Gwaii. The true generosity; however, known or unknown, comes from the Haida people and the salmon itself. Sportfishing is a huge industry in and around Haida Gwaii’s waters and because of this most of the fish caught leaves the local communities.

Doing a deeper dive into the context of the fundraiser leads us to the fish on the plate being consumed by those who passively or aggressively celebrate industrial heritage in a silo. What is wrong with honouring our industrial past, you might ask? By celebrating the logging industry – you are celebrating deforestation. By celebrating historic rail – you are celebrating the displacement of Indigenous communities. By celebrating those who benefitted from colonization and industrialization you are celebrating purposeful and strategic harms that were inflicted upon Indigenous communities in the past which have continued impacts in the present.

I encourage anyone reading this to self-educate about local history in a holistic and fulsome way and to understand that although you may love old planes, trains, and automobiles it is up to each and every one of us to learn to recognize our own blind spots and take steps towards seeing the whole picture.

– Lacey McRae Williams

Ladysmith, BC

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