The Snuneymuxw flag, right, flies atop Nanaimo City Hall alongside the B.C. flag and the City of Nanaimo flag. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Snuneymuxw councillor wants First Nation’s flag removed from Nanaimo City Hall

Douglas White III will ask Snuneymuxw councillors to denounce Nanaimo mayor’s comments

A Snuneymuxw councillor no longer wants to see the First Nation’s flag flown at city hall.

Douglas White III said in a social media post this week that given Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay’s “denial of the reality of the violence city manager Tracy Samra has experienced from a city councillor,” he’ll bring a motion to the SFN government to rescind support for flying their flag at city hall.

White told the News Bulletin he’s not suggesting that the mayor’s comments are racially motivated.

“It’s the simple fact the city manager is an indigenous woman,” said the Snuneymuxw councillor. “[The mayor’s] denial of that and erasure of that reality cannot be allowed to stand. As an indigenous leader, every act of violence against an indigenous woman has to be understood as an act of violence against all of my people, myself included.”

The flag was intended to be a permanent fixture at city hall, flying with the B.C. and City of Nanaimo flags. It was raised in 2015 on National Aboriginal Day.

McKay said then that it wasn’t merely symbolic but should be considered proof of friendship and Snuneymuxw Chief John Wesley said the ceremony showed respect.

“That flag means a lot to me. It’s a symbol of the Snuneymuxw people,” White said this week. “And when the mayor of the city’s denying violence against aboriginal people, it just does not sit well with me that our flag is flying over that city hall. He has turned that gesture of good faith towards the citizens of Nanaimo, the sacred flag of the Snuneymuxw people, he’s turned that into a flag of convenience.”

White said at his next opportunity to speak with fellow Snuneymuxw councillors, he wants to talk about the original decision to allow the flag to fly at city hall. He will also ask the SFN council to denounce the alleged assault against Samra and McKay’s comments about the incident, request that the mayor rescind his comments, and request that the Snuneymuxw flag be returned to the First Nation.

McKay declined to comment on White’s wishes to have the Snuneymuxw flag removed from city hall.

Earlier this week, when asked about a petition alleging a connection between workplace violence and Samra’s First Nations background, McKay said he doesn’t consider it “in any way, shape or form” in his interaction with Samra.

White’s comments come on the heels of a petition that says it’s time for city council to acknowledge alleged violence against Samra and it’s time for an official apology by municipal leadership and the resignation of McKay. The mayor responded, in an article in the News Bulletin, saying that while he believes the petition is well meaning, it is incorrect in facts. He also said a recent report based on a respectful workplace complaint by Samra does not conclude there’s harassment and violence against her.

White said it “remains to be seen” whether this week’s disagreement will have impacts on other relationships and partnerships between the Snuneymuxw and the City of Nanaimo.

“This is a real challenging moment for all of us,” he said. “I take no pleasure in raising these issues publicly because I’m also someone that lives in Nanaimo and I love this city and I care about it and I don’t like the fact that we have to talk about these issues because it’s damaging to the reputation of this city, but what would be worse would be remaining silent at this moment.”

editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Police on motorcycles tap on windows of distracted drivers

Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Cameron Miller said a police motorcycle has been effective in enforcement

VIU, City of Nanaimo collaborating on geese management

City staff have not discussed cull with council

VIDEO: Canada C3 celebrates Canada 150, raises subject of reconciliation

Research icebreaker, travelling the country’s oceans as part of 150 celebrations, docks in Nanaimo

Kellers Jewellers in Lantzville suffers damage in break-in

Incident happened around 5:30 a.m. Oct. 21, says Nanaimo RCMP

Petroleum spill temporarily closes crab fishing dock

Dock closed for public safety after oily sheen forms on water off Maffeo Sutton Park

V.I. Raiders win B.C. football championship

Nanaimo’s junior team defeated the Westshore Rebels 21-7 Saturday on a rainy night in Victoria

Nanaimo Clippers win back-to-back games on home ice

The Clips defeated the Coquitlam Express 4-3 and the Prince George Spruce Kings 5-2

Campbell River teen has been missing almost a week

Public is asked to circulate images of Jordan Holling, 17, who went missing Monday

Island college instructor describes ‘unprecedented’ astronomical discovery

Comox Valley instructor’s research involves explaining the production of chemical elements in stars

Jewelry store smashed up with crowbar, silver and gold stolen

Owner of Kellers Jewellers said the most expensive items were locked away in a safe

Designs revealed for downtown conference centre hotel

A development permit application for the Courtyard by Marriott hotel has been submitted

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Most Read