The Tsilhqot’in National Government celebrated the grand opening of its newest building in Williams Lake Friday, June 9.
In March the TNG purchased a building from Tolko Industries on Second Avenue South and quickly got to work renovating it.
TNG executive director Jenny Philbrick said most of the renovation work was done by the nation’s members.
She also announced the name of the building, chosen from online submissions, which is Dasiqox – the Tsilhqot’in word for Taseko River which runs through the territory.
Tsideldel Chief Otis Guichon, vice-chair of the TNG, acknowledged Williams Lake First Nation for allowing the TNG to do business on the WLFN traditional territory. He also thanked Mayor Surinderpal Rathor and Coun. Michael Moses for attending.
“Since the court case win the TNG has just flourished and we have over 150 workers,” Guichon said.
Guichon recalled how he had been visiting the Tolko building for many years for business.
“We have a long way to go still in order to improve the lives of our people in the region,” he said. “But we must take the time to celebrate our successes. This is just a building but it signifies so much more. This is a signal of hope, it’s a signal of growth.”
The TNG are reclaiming jurisdiction of their children and creating plans, he added.
Yunesit’in Chief Lennon Solomon thanked everyone for attending the celebration as the nation welcomed its new building.
“Our staff are very well-educated and do a lot for the nation. We do a lot of nation consultation and we do see the staff out in the territory,” Solomon said.
Moving into the new building will be several departments such as lands, emergency services, stewardship, health, IT, children and families, women’s council and governance.
Solomon and Guichon added their signatures to a Nits’il?in Oath of Office which the other four chiefs will sign at a later date.
People attending the celebration had the opportunity to tour the new building and enjoy a catered lunch.
Mayor Surinderpal Rathor brought greetings from the city, saying the city wants to see the region flourish.
“We will work together. That is this council’s commitment,” the mayor said.
Tl’esqox elder Joan Gentles said an opening prayer in the Tsilhqot’in language and Rebecca Solomon led the opening song which she wrote herself, Calling Our Power Back.
She was joined by some members of the Tsilhqot’in Women’s Council, which is made up of two women from each of the six Tsilhqot’in nations. The council helps organize events in communities and helps make decisions.
Xeni Gwet’in elder Patrick Lulua, 74, spent many years working in the forest industry across the Cariboo Chilcotin, he said.
Before he led the closing song, he said he had just returned from Nemiah from a resort owned by Xeni Gwet’in.
“They had three people there and I showed them why we drum and the meaning of it and why we do all the things we do like smudging, praying and the sweat lodge.”
The main part of integration is educating the other nation, he added.
“Educating them what we are about. That way they will view us differently and start to respect us.”
The TNG will retain their site on South Lakeside Drive as well as the office building on Fourth Avenue North where the radio station will be moving into.