With much fanfare, Nanaimo City Council and the leaders of the Snuneymuxw First Nation entered the band’s longhouse Monday morning.
Amid singing and drumming they arrived to sign a historic agreement.
“It’s very important to Snuneymuxw when we can walk forward together and show the rest of the world how we’re going to move forward together,” said Mike Wyse, the band’s Chief Councillor.
In 2005 the two parties signed a similar agreement and it was renewed in 2009 but the relationship went sideways with the previous city council.
Things got so bad that in 2017, the first nation asked for their flag to be returned from atop city hall but with a new council comes a fresh start.
“One person said ‘you know we’re not going away and you’re not going away’ so this is an important step that we’re taking to come together and move that forward in a good way,” said Wyse.
The band’s chief says the agreement will provide a guide as the first nation acquires land and needs infrastructure to develop it.
The city’s mayor says the agreement is not only important for reconciliation but it will be a win for all Nanaimo residents.
“It’s important because it’s the right thing to do and it’s important because it will increase the prosperity, safety and peace in our community over time,” said Leonard Krog, Nanaimo’s Mayor.
But the agreement isn’t just a piece of paper. A group representing the band and city council will meet every other month to discuss their shared vision and to improve their relationship.
The band’s chief says with the positive direction the relationship is going their flag may soon be offered up again to fly above Nanaimo city hall.