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Sept. 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

There are a number of ways to mark the day in New West

Randall Bear Barnetson poses in front of his mural, ‘Salmon.’ The installation will be celebrated on Thursday, Sept. 28 at Purpose Society. City of New West.

Editor’s note: some of the details in this piece may be distressing for readers.

In Truth and Reconciliation, there are a lot of emotions to interpret and process not just every Sept. 30, but year round. For some it is a linear or non-linear experience of grief, loss, and mourning, particularly knowing and understanding how and what historically our city—and our country—was built on. For others who may be witnessing these experiences as allies, it is trying to understand what happened, and how to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

New Westminster revealed earlier this year that it has a relationship with 34 Bands, Indigenous governments, and First Nations. This includes:

Before the development of New Westminster, the area was a prominent fishing village. “From that list [of 34], we’ve narrowed it down to six who have identified New Westminster as part of their traditional territory,” Christina Coolidge, the city’s Indigenous relations advisor previously explained to The Anchor. “When we have a big project, we send out a sort of FYI to all 34. But we wouldn’t necessarily do consulting work in the same way with all of them.”

If you’re looking for ways to reflect and commemorate the day, and to further your learnings about the First Nations, Indigenous governments, and Bands with ties to this area, there are a number of options in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

Some light reading (and watching)

Get to know the City of New Westminster’s ‘A Year of Truth’ website. New Westminster has previously shared its intent to first understand and explore the truth of the city’s origins—and also understand how the presence of a spate of Indigenous Peoples were excluded from history.

The Anchor wrote about the city’s goal to understand the truth in order to engage in meaningful reconciliation. While you can take a look at that piece for a summary, the city’s most recent report on this is also an important read.

“In 1859, settlers occupied this land that was actively supporting local First Nations. None of this was done legally, and the nations whose land was taken are still here,” page 3 of the Year of Truth Journal reads. 

Learn about the name for our new aquatic centre—and how to say it

Did you know that Tәmәseẃtxw means ‘Sea Otter House in the hәń´qәmińәḿ (Halkomelem) language? This is the name of our new aquatic and community centre, which is scheduled to open next year.

The name ‘Tәmәseẃtxw ’ was, according to the city, chosen with feedback from the urban Indigenous community, as well as representatives from the Kwantlen, Musqueam, Qayqayt and Squamish Nations. The feedback also noted the importance of choosing an aquatic animals as part of representation. The hәń-´qәmińәḿ language was the downriver dialect spoken by the Indigenous Peoples in what is now New West.

Attend a local event

One of the most recognizable annual local events is the one that takes place at Pier Park. It’s taking place on Saturday, beginning at noon. You are encouraged to wear an orange shirt.

Appreciating Indigenous art

There are two very beautiful—and relatively new additions—to the Agnes Greenway, right outside Ecole Qayqayt Elementary. If you haven’t had a chance to view these murals, this is a perfect time to do so.

The artwork was designed by Rain Pierre of the Katzie First Nation; Pierre’s story is inspiring. He went from working as a civil engineer to spreading his wings as an artist, and outside of New West his work can be found in the Township of Langley, Surrey, Burnaby Mountain.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, Randall Bear Barnetson will be on hand to celebrate the installation of his mural at Purpose Society. This will be taking place from 1 to 2:30pm, and all are welcome.

Support local Indigenous creators and artisans

New Westminster saw its first Indigenous Craft Market last year at the Quay. Along with resources via Arts New West, you can also connect with local Indigenous makers through Shop First Nations. 

“Data from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business indicates that ‘over 99% of Aboriginal businesses are [small- or medium- enterprises].’ Because of this entrepreneurial mindset, Indigenous businesses rely on you – the consumer—to help them survive,” the ‘about’ section of Shop First Nations reads.

You can use the Shop First Nations’ search tool to find an Indigenous-owned business near you.

The importance of food as a connector

William "Bill" Nelson is the Indigenous Elder who spends every Wednesday without fail at New West City Hall/Ria Renouf, New West Anchor

Last year, City of New Westminster previously announced its intent to have an elder-in-residence program, and every Wednesday Elder William “Bill” Nelson is on hand to host soup and bannock. If you haven’t had the chance to read about his experiences in New West, we invite you to take a look.

What are the ways you mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation? Drop us a line at [email protected]; we’d love to hear your thoughts.

In a previous version, The Anchor shared an erroneous event link. Please note that the link has been updated to reflect the 2023 event taking place at Pier Park. New West Anchor regrets the error.

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