Nanaimo is planning a special decoration for National Aboriginal Day this Sunday (June 21) – the Snuneymuxw flag will be run up the flagpole outside city hall, where it will fly from then on.
We hope that National Aboriginal Day is more than just decorative and has greater symbolism. It matters to us here and everywhere across our country. First Nations and non-First Nations people are friends and neighbours and those relationships should be among our most treasured.
When we think about what National Aboriginal Day means, we should think about our connections to the land, the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus and the Snaw-Naw-As people, and how our shared home ties intrinsically to our identity.
It’s worth thinking about the progress we have made together and the progress we continue to make. Water sharing between the City of Nanaimo and the Snuneymuxw is one example; advancements in the Snaw-Naw-As treaty is another. Continually, at the Bulletin, we come across stories about aboriginal pioneers in government and newsmakers in arts, culture and sport and we realize that these are not First Nations stories, but our shared stories.
Too often, though, there are reminders of why our relationship has been so stressed and strained over the years, and even broken in some ways. When we digest the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings, it’s comparatively easy to admit the truth, but a much greater task to reconcile. The past can be ugly, but we’d be blind to think racism hasn’t lingered in the years since. Sometimes prejudice can be ignored, but most of the time it should be questioned and addressed and redressed.
On National Aboriginal Day, let’s recognize that we are the same and celebrate that we are different, and try to connect and heal.