An official naming ceremony for the 200-foot Nekw7usem Bridge connecting the RC Cotton trail to Scout Island in Williams Lake is scheduled for Monday, May 17 at noon.
“The bridge is a landmark project for the city and opens up more of the outdoor spaces that are so important to residents and visitors alike,” Mayor Walt Cobb said. “The pedestrian bridge provides excellent viewing of the marsh and outlet and was designed to conserve the natural riparian habitat.”
Cobb noted the city is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with WLFN to choose the name Nekw7usem Bridge, which means “unity.”
During a council meeting in February 2020, WLFN representatives provided three name choices from which council selected one at the March 5, 2020 council meeting.
WLFN Chief Willie Sellars said in February 2018 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the WLFN by confirming its Secwepemc ancestors were displaced by European settlers.
“Our ancestors considered Scout Island a sacred site, a place of refuge, a resource for sustenance, and the location where spiritual healing occurred,” Sellars said. “We are grateful to the city of Williams Lake for acknowledging the necessity for modern-day reconciliation by declaring this bridge a symbol of “one tribe, one family.”
Sellars added unity, more than ever, is required for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to move forward on respective healing journeys.
The naming ceremony and sign unveiling will include elected officials, elders, and community representatives from both the city and WLFN.
Both the city and WLFN said they would also like to thank the Williams Lake Field Naturalists and grant providers for their support.
Completed in 2020, the pedestrian bridge was made possible with grants obtained from the Rural Dividend Program and the Canada Recreation Program with 83 per cent of the project funded by provincial government grants and the remainder by the city.
In February 2021 the city received grant funding for proposed boardwalk connecting the RC Cotton Trail to the River Valley Recreation Trail. Planning is still underway for that project.
“The city looks forward to continuing to improve access to our natural landscape,” Cobb added.