When you are trying to figure out the big picture, especially in the future tense, you sometimes have to put together a lot of pieces, large and small, then extrapolate as best you can.
There are a few pieces recently that show a changing dynamic between First Nations in the Ladysmith and Chemainus area, and other peoples, who now inhabit the Cowichan Valley.
In this edition of the Chronicle there are a couple of stories that hint – possibly – at things to come.
The Stz’uminus First Nation, through its Coast Salish Development Corporation, is gathering economic momentum.
This is a positive development, firstly, because they are forging ahead without waiting for land and treaty claims to be settled, a process too cumbersome to assure prosperity for today’s generation; secondly, because their model of success incorporates a triple bottom-line, balancing profits, environmental considerations, and the wellness of the community.
That’s an approach we can all learn from.
Another note is the renaming of Echo Heights Park in Chemainus to Wul’aam Park. That the Municipality of North Cowichan took this step, and asked the elders and Penelakut people what they think the park should be named is a sign of growing respect. That the Penelakut changed the name, but retained its meaning in Hul’qumi’num (Wul’amm means ‘Echo’) is perhaps a message too.
The Town of Ladysmith has also made it policy to include Hul’qumi’num names on its streets, buildings and public spaces.
There is evidence here, and at the national and provincial levels, that good will and hard work may be tending us in the right direction.
Of course, putting together the pieces implies something has been broken, and there is no doubt the relationship between First Nations people and others who now call this land home, has been based on broken promises and obligations… and is still in need of repair. But hope is based on signs that show hope itself is possible.