An orange shirt forms part of a memorial on the fence surrounding the former site of the Nanaimo Indian Hospital. (News Bulletin file)

An orange shirt forms part of a memorial on the fence surrounding the former site of the Nanaimo Indian Hospital. (News Bulletin file)

First Nations and Nanaimo area leaders call for peace and respect among people

Letter penned in response to public reaction to graves discovered at residential schools

Leaders of two area First Nations and the City of Nanaimo have penned an open letter calling for peace and mutual respect among all people who call the Island home.

The letter, from Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Mike Wyse, Snaw-Naw-As First Nation Chief Gordon Edwards and Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog follows recently discovered unmarked graves at residential schools, including more than 160 graves at Penelakut Island. The discoveries have “shaken many people to their core … and has brought tremendous pain and suffering to survivors who are constantly forced to re-live their experiences at these horrific residential schools,” the three stated in the letter.

The letter notes there have been peaceful vigils and healing ceremonies showing support for Indigenous Peoples, but some other demonstrations were followed by vandalism and arson, which are “inconsistent with the ideals of Canadians who want to see reconciliation, peace and acceptance in our communities.”

In the letter, the leaders said they are united in asking everyone to respect one another and not engage in acts of violence and vandalism. They urge people to turn to non-violent, peaceful ways to convey their “disappointment and disagreement with Canada on the treatment of Indigenous Peoples” and to “reason together, educate one another, acknowledging that we welcome diversity to mend divisions and not create them.”

READ ALSO: B.C. First Nation confirms over 160 unmarked graves found at old school site

Wyse, Edwards and Krog closed by saying they want everyone who calls Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As, Nanaimo and Vancouver Island home to feel safe, welcomed, loved, treated with equality and be allowed to thrive by remembering the basic foundation of being good neighbours and human beings by having mutual respect and acknowledging the importance of every person and their emotions.

RCMP confirmed Thursday that there have been no reported acts of violence or vandalism in Nanaimo related to the discoveries at residential schools.


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