Snuneymuxw First Nation Welcomes Public to Conversation About Douglas Treaties

B. McPherson                  Grand Chief Shawn Atleo, third from left, and Snuneymuxw
                                         Chief Douglas White, fourth from left

The Snuneymexw First Nation held the third in a series of information meetings about the historical Douglas Treaties signed in the 1850’s with groups of indigenous people on Vancouver Island. At the time Britain claimed Vancouver Island as a colony, but wished to engage in peaceful settlement and resource extraction.

This third in the series was held at the Nanaimo’s main library. The public was treated to native dancers in the Diana Krall plaza before the lecture. The young people carried on in spite of the rain, hail and finally a burst of sunshine and a rainbow over the harbour.

Inside the library, the overflow crowd was addressed by Grand Chief Shawn Atleo and by Snuneymuxw Chief, Douglas White. Both stressed the need for conversation between different parts of the community as well as the need for awareness and recognition of the historical treaties.

Vancouver Island University has been active in creating a conversation with the local First Nation people. Grand Chief Atleo has consented to be Chancellor.

The Douglas Treaties are named after the first governor of the Crown Colony who reached signed treaties. In the years since, the treaties have been largely ignored and forgotten by the newer settlers to the Island. The young, more assertive and well educated leaders are seeking to educate the public about these historical agreements.

Canada was a colony of Britain during the early European settlement. By and large it was a peaceful operation because of the treaties signed by representatives of the First Nations and the Crown. Unfortunately for the native people many of the treaties were subsequently ignored and the “Indians” were largely treated as second class citizens for many years.
                                           Dancers brave downpour to welcome public to lecture.

The Aboriginal Speaking Series will conclude May 10th and 11th with a conference at the local university. The conference is titled Vancouver Island Treaties, The Vancouver Island Treaties 1959 -54

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