Indigenous signage aims to make B.C. legislature more inclusive, accepting

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Elder Mary Ann Thomas and Charlie George, of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Centres, welcome the new Indigenous signage unveiled on the grounds of the B.C. legislature, once the site of an Indigenous village, in Victoria on Wednesday Nov. 29, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner

The Speaker of British Columbia’s legislature says the unveiling of Indigenous-themed signs outside the building is a necessary step toward opening doors that have been historically closed.

Raj Chouhan says the B.C. legislature is the province’s largest symbol of colonialism, but it’s his priority to make the building a more welcoming and inclusive place.

“It is my priority to make sure that this building now becomes the most welcoming and inclusive. This is why we are now installing the Lekwungen language in front of the building and so anybody will come and see and be proud of it,” said Chouhan.

He says a ceremony today where engraved Indigenous language signs were permanently attached to the stone sidewalk perimeter of the building represent symbols of progress that would not have been welcome years ago.

Hereditary Chief Edward Thomas Sr. says the presence of Indigenous language signs at the legislature, the former site of a village for the Lekwungen-speaking peoples, is a show of respect to the past and an open door to the future.

“The Lekwungen language [on this sign] is something good and now it’s going to be forever imprinted for the Lekwungen people here at the legislature where we got our language being present on our home village,” said Thomas.

Thomas added he can see more Indigenous people coming to the legislature now that the signs are there to acknowledge their history and contributions.

Chouhan says the signs include seven messages in the Lekwungen language and their English translations, including one that says, “It is good that you settlers are one together with the Lekwungen people.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023.

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