Ian Simpson is certain that his grandmother would have been proud to see the Snuneymuxw flag raised over Nanaimo City Hall Thursday.
“I could just imagine,” said Ian Simpson, CEO of Petroglyph Development Group.
“Oh yeah absolutely. To see that,” he said.
Gone over a decade now, Mildred Simpson never lived to see the progress of First Nations in her hometown, after the trailblazer became the first-ever Indigenous student to attend the public school system in Nanaimo.
“She would be proud of not only the work that I am doing but also the work that the nation is doing,” said Simpson.
Ian Simpson now leads that work, as CEO of the Snuneymuxw’s Petroglyph Development Group that manages everything from investments in real estate to forestry.
Nanaimo’s Mayor said Mildred Simpson is proof of how far First Nations have come in the city.
“It has great emotional meaning for me,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.
“To see that kind of success within this city and to know what struggles it took to overcome prejudice and colonization,” he said.
“And to me, Ian’s success is a symbol,” said Krog.
As was the raising of this Snuneymuxw flag over Nanaimo City Hall, as a gesture of reconciliation, and moving forward from a troubled past.
The flag was removed two years ago, during an increasing conflict at City Hall.
Its return marks a new chapter, in a relationship that Snuneyuxw Chief Michael Wyse said is stronger than ever.
“The respect is there,” said Wyse.
“And we see a lot of good things into the future,” he said.
The symbolism of the event, in the midst of the Wetsuweten dispute, appeared to be intentional. With First Nations standing prominently alongside RCMP, and elected city officials.
“It’s time we sit down and work together,” said Wyse.
“And we’re displaying that today,” he said.
A day that Mildred Simpson was very much a part of, through the generations now following in her footsteps.