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‘We have not been consulted’: Snuneymuxw First Nation objects to Nanaimo development on historical village site

Snuneymuxw First Nation is speaking out against the City of Nanaimo advancing a development on the site of a historical village, Sxwayxum.

This after the city passed a rezoning amendment on Terminal Ave, Mill Street and Comox Road at a public hearing on Thursday.

In a statement, the nation says the land is protected under a treaty signed in 1854, and the city is reverting to colonial, extinguish-based approaches to working with them.

“In an era where the federal, provincial and municipal governments have made commitments to advance truth and reconciliation,” reads the Nation’s statement. “The City has chosen to conduct business in a manner that is expressly inconsistent with its own commitments and agreed upon government-to-government protocols with Snuneymuxw First Nation.”

Chief Mike Wyse says the unique and irreplaceable village site was unlawfully stolen from his people, and they will not stand by and permit it to be developed without adequate consultation.

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“When the Snuneymuxw Treaty of 1854 was signed, Sxwayxum was an occupied village site to be protected and kept for the use of the Snuneymuxw People,” says Wyse. “In the intervening years, the land was wrongfully taken from us and given to private owners. In the 1960s the Proposed Project site was developed into a hotel, without any involvement or consultation with our people.

Today, despite the commitments of our governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, we are seeing yet another development being rammed through for this Proposed Project site that does not involve our people and on which we have not been consulted after repeated attempts to convene for discussion.”

Wyse says any attempt to develop the site without consultation will be plagued with opposition from the nation and he hopes to work together to find a positive outcome for both sides.

“The cultural significance of our Sxwayxum village site has been confirmed by our own stories, laws and traditions, as well as historical and archaeological evidence,” says Wyse. “This unique and irreplaceable site was unlawfully stolen from our people. We will not stand by and permit it to be developed without adequate consultation.”

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