Mark Johnnie

Mark Johnnie

Snuneymuxw, Nanaimo flags fly side by side

The flag of the Snuneymuxw people was unfurled atop Nanaimo City Hall on National Aboriginal Day on Sunday.

The flag of the Snuneymuxw people was unfurled atop Nanaimo City Hall on National Aboriginal Day on Sunday.

The flag raising wasn’t merely symbolic, said Mayor Bill McKay, but should be considered proof of friendship.

“We have common interests, common challenges and we must work together,” he said. “And with our combined strength, natural talent, experience and knowledge, we’ll achieve good things that only friends can.”

The Snuneymuxw flag will become a permanent fixture atop the city hall building, joining the B.C. flag and the City of Nanaimo’s official flag.

Snuneymuxw Chief John Wesley said the ceremony showed respect.

“We’re living side by side now and we’re going down a path that we want to go together, to be successful together,” he said.

Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder said it was heartening to see Sunday’s ceremony, after she personally heard Justice Murray Sinclair reveal Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings in Ottawa earlier this month.

“One of the many things that Justice Sinclair talked about and many, many, many survivors and their families have talked about, is that there can be no reconciliation without true action,” Crowder said. “And this really important event is a step on that road to reconciliation – recognizing the First Peoples’ rightful place here on the land.”

Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog said seeing the community gathered for the flag raising strengthens his belief that Nanaimo is building something special in its relationship between First Nations people and those who came afterward.

“There is much to atone for, but there is much hope,” Krog said.

McKay said when it comes to relationship building between the City of Nanaimo and the Snuneymux, the two sides won’t just talk the talk, but will walk the walk.

“This day has significance to our community by the action we take today and this day forward,” the mayor said. “And that is to govern our community in harmony.”

For a related editorial, please click here.