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LETTER: Writer questions Langley’s treatment of local First Nations

Township marks 150th anniversary next year with plaza partnership
Kwantlen First Nation chief Marilyn Gabriel, Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag, and Township Mayor Eric Woodward were at the ceremony announcing the Kwantlen First Nation Plaza to mark the Township’s 150th anniversary. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Dear Editor,

Re: [Symbolic new plaza being erected at LEC, Langley Advance Times, Nov. 17]

The upcoming 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the Township of Langley (TOL) made the news this month with a federal funding $500,000 grant announcement “promoting citizen engagement, culture and heritage” on an “immersive artistic plaza showcasing works of local First Nation artists.”

New TOL Mayor Eric Woodward declared for the announcement: “Over the past 150 years, our community has done a lot to celebrate our pioneers and early settlers. 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.”

Is it possible that TOL has also done relatively less over these 150 years to recognize mixed ancestry people resulting from the union of their Kwantlen Indigenous partner with white settlers as well as with other Indigenous people such as Semiahmoo, Katsie, Matsqui, Coquitlam, Musqueam, Tsawwassen, Kanaka (native Hawaiian), Iroquois and Abenaki prior to these 150 years?

Children of these unions were often discriminated by both white and Indigenous people for having the inappropriate skin colour tone expected by the group. Mixed ancestry people are after all also part of the “shared history” and continue to be “integral to the future growth and identity of the Township of Langley” in its celebration of “citizen engagement, culture and heritage.”

Only two years away from the bicentennial of an exploration once carried out by a similarly broadly diverse crew originating from the Columbia Valley (1824), TOL still does not recognize the undertaking that led to the establishment of the first ever trading post and agricultural mixed ancestry settlement in Southern British Columbia (1827), nearly a half century before its incorporation (1873) under a new colonial government.

Are political reasons and flavours of the day thinking still prevailing nowadays?

In ending, note that the City of Langley split away (1955) from TOL without consulting its local Indigenous Kwantlen partner people. Needless to say, mixed ancestry people had little say then, too.

Same old?

Réjean Beaulieu, Vancouver


• READ MORE: Celebration of Indigenous culture draws hundreds to Langley powwow


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