Better late than never

As Canada gets ready for one of the biggest parties in its history, it’s nice to see Parksville Qualicum Beach celebrating those who occupied this vast land long before the British North America Act was ever conceived.

Yesterday (June 21) was National Aboriginal Day and it was likely a day that didn’t register on the majority of residents’ calendars.

That was not the case for the City of Parksville council and staff, who hosted representatives of the Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation in a ceremony that included a proclamation recognizing the city’s debt to the indigenous people who preceded its founding.

The most remarkable thing about the ceremony was that it has never been held before.

True, Parksville does not have the level of visible aboriginal population found in other Island communities, like Cowichan, Port Alberni or Port Hardy, to name a few.

But we do have a shared history, and it is one worth recognizing.

Joe Stanhope, the longtime Regional District of Nanaimo board director, recalls a time when “there was a huge First Nations presence” in and around Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

First proclaimed back in 1996, Aboriginal Day is meant to be a day that celebrates and recognizes the cultures and contributions made by all First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada.

Unfortunately, we’re still a long way from seeing this day become a statutory holiday for all, but local groups in some communities are working hard to make sure the day receives the celebration it deserves.

Canada has done a lot of good since its foundation 150 years ago. But, despite some progress, there’s no larger black mark on our history than how this country has treated our aboriginal peoples. Together, let’s make sure that doesn’t remain the case during the next 150 years.

So, if yesterday’s celebration went unremarked in your household, consider tuning in next year and taking note of the stories that are being shared. Because the small steps being taken in Parksville can be used as an example of what can be done when communities work in harmony, rather than in opposition.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News