Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Vancouver acknowledges city on unceded First Nations territory

By Emily Jackson

Vancouver would like to formally acknowledge the city is on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

City council voted unanimously Wednesday to acknowledge the city sits on the Coast Salish traditional land, which was never officially given up.

Staff and council will work with representatives from the three nations to develop protocols for welcomes, blessings and acknowledgment of territory to be used when the city conducts business.

The decision, which was marked with the singing of the Coast Salish anthem in council chambers, earned praise from leaders from the three First Nations.

“If the rest of the province and federal government can see the leadership you guys are showing, how we can work together, it will be a better place,” Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow said.

“The establishment of a government to government committee gives us more energy and insight in terms of how we’re going to work together,” Squamish Nation Coun. Chris Lewis said.

The decision will not have any legal ramifications regarding treaty negotiations, as those issues rest with the province and the federal governments, city manager Penny Ballem said.

The motion comes after the end of the year of reconciliation in the city, where events were held to recognize past injustices and work on rebuilding relationships.

It’s important for the city to use appropriate protocols to ensure it does right by local First Nations, Mayor Gregor Robertson said.

“We’re doing the that best we can do to acknowledge the First Peoples of this place and all of the legacy they’ve created for the rest of us who’ve arrived since then,” Robertson said.

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