Members of Snuneymuxw First Nation government will go to Nanaimo City Hall today (Sept. 15) to ask for their flag back.
Band council unanimously resolved Aug. 29 to revoke consent to the Snuneymuxw flag flying atop Nanaimo City Hall and request the return of the flag. That will now happen today.
Douglas White III, Snuneymuxw councillor, said he notified Nanaimo’s acting city manager, Victor Mema, “letting him know that we were coming and that we expected them to make arrangements for the return of the flag and we’ll be down there to receive it at noon tomorrow. The exact mechanics or specifics, I’m not sure exactly how it will play out.”
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The Snuneymuxw resolution points to “patterns of negative behaviour” toward Nanaimo’s chief administrative officer Tracy Samra, denounces “violence experienced by Tracy Samra in the attack against her by city councillor Wendy Pratt” and requests that Mayor Bill McKay rescind a comment about the incident. It also asks that Nanaimo’s mayor and council recognize the seriousness of the matter.
“This is part of a broader, urgent issue in Canadian society about violence against aboriginal women,” White said. “This is something that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds across this country.”
Snuneymuxw Chief John Wesley said in a press release that the First Nation is compelled to rise to speak out.
“The Snuneymuxw First Nation is committed to working collectively with the citizens of Nanaimo and their government to build new patterns premised on recognition, respect, reciprocity, justice and reconciliation,” Wesley said. “However, we cannot sit idly by in the face of violence against an indigenous woman.”
White said that after he made his intentions known last month about wishing for the Snuneymuxw flag to be returned, “I half expected somebody to reach out. Nobody did.”
He said he’s still hopeful positive discussion can happen.
“Certainly we’re raising these concerns to denounce what’s happened, but also to implore that something different happens in the future,” White said.