Erralyn Thomas, president of Petroglyph Development Group, shows the vision for a longhouse on Saysutshun, or Newcastle Island. A vision for the marine park was unveiled Friday by the economic development group for the Snuneymuxw First Nation. (TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin)

VIDEO: Snuneymuxw First Nation unveils $6M vision for Newcastle Island

Vision for island near Nanaimo includes restaurant with Snuneymuxw-inspired fare, artisans village

A $6-million vision, unveiled today, paints Newcastle Island as a place where people will learn to carve and weave, peruse artisans’ wares and sample indigenous-inspired food.

Petroglyph Development Group, the economic development arm of Snuneymuxw First Nation, revealed a proposed plan for Saysutshun Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park during an invite-only event, Friday.

The vision, shared by the City of Nanaimo and B.C. Parks, shows new amenities for the 363-hectare island, such as a welcome and adventure centre, a new restaurant with waterfront vistas and indigenous-inspired fare, a longhouse, artisans village and more campsites.

According to the economic development group and Snuneymuxw, the idea is to connect residents, Snuneymuxw and tourists to the island, a 10-minute ferry ride away from Maffeo Sutton Park, as well as share traditions and ways of life of the Snuneymuxw people and the history of the island.

Saysutshun was a place where Snuneymuxw people collected medicinal herbs, retreated to recover from life trauma and where competitive canoe pullers ran trails to build strength and endurance. It later hosted a resort, Japanese herring saltery, shipyard and sandstone quarry.

“We hold this island to a very high significance in our cultural ways and we want to share that with the rest of the world,” said Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse, who said the goal is to share who the Snuneymuxw are and where they come from and to get the greater community of Nanaimo interested and back to the island where they can create memories.

“I spent a bit of time over here when I was a kid too … we used to come over here and have picnics, just family time. You remember those times, those are special. That’s our main objective is to really bring our island back to life.”

Among the amenities showcased Friday, was a 20,000-square-foot longhouse that’s considered one of the first projects the Snuneymuxw would look to build. It’s proposed to showcase indigenous traditions and offer workshops to people, such as in carving and weaving.

There’s also a 2,000-square foot restaurant, a covered amphitheatre and a welcome and adventure centre that would host administrative offices, washrooms and reception with tickets for things like watersports and island tours. The plan also speaks to 18 more campsites, which would add to the 23 already in the marine park, and an artisan village behind the pavilion where Snuneymuxw artists could sell wares to residents and visitors.

Also mentioned was a fixed crossing, but Erralyn Thomas, development group president, said all options are still being looked at and the public and decision makers will be engaged on what they want to see.

Sheila Malcolmson, MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, was encouraged by the vision.

“This feels like a place that we could really encourage a lot of visitors to come, learn about the really precious ecology, the sensitive shorelines and unspoiled part of the coast and learn, most importantly about the culture of the people that protected it and in whose territory it is,” Malcolmson said. “I can picture tourists from all over the world coming here, learning about Snuneymuxw culture, learning about reconciliation in a hands on way, getting a great salmon dinner at the same time, but also some real cultural immersion opportunities for settlers and indigenous peoples both.

“I’d love to take back to Ottawa what Snuneymuxw’s asks are so that we can make sure their vision is fully funded.”

The economic development group is now looking for partnerships and investments to bring the vision to life.

– With files from Chris Bush



news@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo challenges families to Instagram their park explorations

ParkIt challenge set up to offer prizes to cap off days at the park

Nanaimo RCMP want speeding motorists to ‘slow the blazes down’

Police raise alarm after seeing 400-per cent rise in excessive speeding tickets last month

Top central Vancouver Island health official retires

Island Health says Dr. Paul Hasselback’s replacement to be named shortly

17-year-old girl from Nanaimo reported missing

RCMP asking for help finding Trisha Harry

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

World’s biggest Nanaimo bar confirmed, but it’s not in Nanaimo

Two Ontario children set the bar high with successful biggest Nanaimo bar world record attempt

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Most Read