Khelsilem and Mindy Wight: Reconciliation is building something better for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities
One day in the not-so-distant future, the community that includes Vanier Park, the Kitsilano Indian Reserve, and the adjacent streets around Burrard Street to West 1st Avenue to Creekside Park, will be described as the Sen̓áḵw neighbourhood of Vancouver.
This future reflects the truth and history of this land, which saw the government of Canada confine our ancestors to small patches of land, and allocate only 80 acres in this area. Then, in 1913, Squamish families were forcibly removed, the land was annexed by the City of Vancouver and the federal and provincial governments. It took nearly a century for a small fraction of this land to be returned to us. Only after a decades-long legal battle and a 2003 court decision did we see a small 10.5-acre portion of Sen̓áḵw returned to the Squamish people.
History and context matters. Imagine a world before contact where a population of over 100,000 Squamish people enjoyed secure housing, child care, health care, accessible nutrition, and meaningful work. By 1913, when we were forcibly removed from Sen̓áḵw village, our population had declined to around 300.