Work is moving along quickly after Quesnel City council unanimously approved turning the amphitheater area near city hall into a permanent commemoration for the victims of Residential Schools at their Sept. 28 council meeting.
A joint news release from the city and Lhtako Dené, Nazko, ?Esdilagh, and Lhoosk’uz Dené First Nations released on Oct. 5 says the park will be redesigned in collaboration with the nations.
Mayor Bob Simpson said Quesnel council was committed to reconciliation.
“This particular project has very special meaning to Council as we try to do our part to educate the public about the negative impacts of residential schools and create a permanent learning, healing and gathering space for all our community members,” he said.
?Esdilagh First Nation Chief Troy Baptiste said he was in support of more Indigenous symbolism in the Quesnel area.
“A gathering and healing spot is a good start however, more needs to be done to represent the bands whose traditional territory encompasses Quesnel,” he said.
“?Esdilagh looks forward to the future projects that will be established, not only in the name of reconciliation but also to bring awareness to the public about the culture and traditions of the carrier and Tsilhqot’in people who call Quesnel their home.”
Lhoosk’uz Dené Chief Liliane Squinas noted members were some of the final students who attended residential schools in Canada.
“These students had complained about the trauma experienced, yet nobody believed their story,” she said.
“With this commemoration project, it’s a step towards acknowledgment that colonialism and forced removal of children done its damage. We should continue to work together on our path to healing.”
Nazko Chief Leah Stump said the park would be a good tool to educate and inform the public about residential schools.
“I am pleased to be moving towards reconciliation with the city of Quesnel but most of all I am grateful to see a better path being paved for our future generations to come because that is who we are building and battling for,” she said.
Lhtako Dené Nation put out a combined statement from both their chief and council.
“This is an outstanding way to recognize the hurts that were realized by our people and to help in the achievement of the truth and reconciliation that is so needed by Indigenous peoples,” they said.
The city of Quesnel is planning on completing the design of the space by early 2022, with the hopes construction will be finished by the 2022 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
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