Half a million dollars in federal funding will help create a new plaza and art project at the Langley Events Centre symbolizing the partnership between the Kwantlen First Nation and the Township of Langley.
The project was announced on Wednesday, Nov. 9 by Kwantlen Chief Marilyn Gabriel, Langley Township Mayor Eric Woodward, and Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag.
The new plaza, receiving $500,000 in funding from Ottawa, will expand on and replace an existing plaza that currently lies on the south side of the LEC, between a playground area and the soccer fields.
The new plaza will showcase the works of local First Nations artists and artisans, and will include two large traditional carved house posts, along with six to eight smaller posts made from wood or modern materials.
There will also be painted and stamped concrete, Indigenous plantings, and interpretive panels on the shared history of the KFN and the Township.
“This is another stepping stone,” said Chief Gabriel at the ceremony announcing the project.
She and Aldag unveiled a preliminary design of the plaza, but the final design will be worked out over the coming months in consultation between the Township and the KFN, with the help of Indigenous elders and artists.
“This will be an important opportunity to honour and celebrate the rich local Indigenous culture of this area – from our community of Kwantlen and our neighbouring communities of Semiahmoo, Katzie and Matsqui. It marks a positive step forward towards sharing, understanding and ‘yayestel’ (working together) for all to enjoy,” Gabriel said in a statement.
Gabriel said she was happy to be with people who were all striving for the betterment of their community.
“This project is reconciliation in action,” said Aldag, adding that what has happened in the past cannot be undone, but that people will move forward.
The new site will be a chance for citizens to get involved and learn about history, and the plaza will host celebrations, meetings, and art events.
The project also marks the 150th anniversary – to take place next year – of the Township’s incorporation. Langley was among the first communities officially incorporated in British Columbia, and pre-dates Vancouver.
“Over the past 150 years, our community has done a lot to celebrate our pioneers and early settlers,” Woodward said in a statement. “We have done relatively less over that time to recognize our Indigenous partners. This 150th anniversary is an opportunity to highlight our shared history, and especially, how the Kwantlen First Nation has been and will continue to be integral to the future growth and identity of the Township of Langley.
The Township’s portion of the cost will come from funds for a new soccer stadium planned for the LEC site.
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