Big steps are being made between the local government, provincial government and First Nations.
Monumental steps, it seems, in the last few weeks.
First there was the Memorandum of Understanding signed between four First Nation bands and the District of Kent. Among the bands at the table were a few that weren’t even on speaking terms only a few chiefs ago.
Then last week, the provincial government was out in Seabird in full force, with copious gift giving and accolades for Seabird’s past successes, and hope for future potential.
There has been cedar placed on floors, heads wrapped in fabric, and hearts draped with blankets. There’s been drumming and singing and prayers of thanks.
And it should be noted that these traditional customs aren’t just for show. They’re certainly not lip service. There is meaning behind every symbolic gesture.
Considering it’s only been about 60 years since the Potlatch ban was repealed, it’s nothing short of a miracle that these two forms of government can speak on the same terms, let alone come to mutually beneficial agreements.
And while this all may seem like a lot of handshaking at once, remember that these ceremonies aren’t held spur of the moment.
They follow months, even years, of negotiations between the bands and the government, and even the bands themselves. And all of that political canoodling, of course, follows a sordid history of First Nation relations in B.C., in which governments and bands weren’t so affectionate with each other.
This is a good sign, because even though there are sure to be a few more bumps in the road, future leaders can look back on times like these and remember that collaboration is truly possible.