To the Editor,
I have had the great privilege to be a part of a number of First Nations’ initiatives of late – Idle No More, the signing of a reconciliation agreement by the province and Snuneymuxw First Nation and the latest, and perhaps best, the dialogue From Racism to Reconciliation.
At the dialogue, many people got up and bravely related their stories.
In doing so, Nanaimo’s Empire Days celebrations came up a few times. Nanaimo has a chance to take a step in the right direction and make this year’s celebration the last.
It is the right of all cultures in this great city to celebrate their presence and contributions. Where I have a problem is when Nanaimo’s celebration, in the broader and archaic context of ‘Empire,’ actually celebrates the conquest of one nation for the direct benefit of another.
The time has come to change the name to something that does not carry with it the baggage of a not-too-pleasant experience suffered by the colonized in the name of ‘Empire,’ something that commemorates the shared history of all.
Let’s celebrate inclusively both the short history of Nanaimo, since first contact, and the much longer history of the Snuneymuxw First Nation now and before.
Gordon W. Fuller