Councils came together in a symbolic way, and now they have an opportunity to strengthen that symbolism into something more.
Members of the Snuneymuxw band council paid a visit to Nanaimo city council this week to extend a hand and carry on a conversation that must continue.
Snuneymuxw’s newest councillors were sworn in earlier this month, so calling on Nanaimo council represented one of the first orders of business. It’s an indication, perhaps, that band council, re-invigorated with a new dynamic, is approaching its term with the best intentions of communication and co-operation with friends and neighbours.
It was a chance for the two councils to offer up those sentiments about relationship-building, plus platitudes and handshakes. The visit might have been more than just a social call, though – Coun. Doug White III, for example, scolded the municipality about a land transaction on the south downtown waterfront, and said it’s the kind of matter in which the Snuneymuxw needs to be involved.
Co-operation between councils will take a working relationship, one that will necessarily morph and change over the years, but one that must always exist. It’s desirable and imperative that Nanaimo city councillors share local leadership with the band councillors. The things that matter to Nanaimo matter to all of us who live here on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people. Our country and province have a terrible, true history of disrespect, abuse and racism toward indigenous people, and among the lessons we should learn is that we can co-operate now or be left to try to reconcile later.
Symbolism can mean a lot. The handshakes among councillors were a sign of mutual respect, and should be an example to any of us who live here on the shores of the Salish Sea, in the Harbour City we’ve built together.