Bob Simpson says it’s not enough to just be shocked and disturbed by the mass grave that was discovered at the Kamloops Residential School.
“As a Council and as a community we need to take this opportunity to really double down on our reconciliation efforts, and get past this business of somehow the settler names that we’ve given to places, or the relationship that we have with the First Nations, you know as it is is the way it should be.”
Simpson is calling on residents to embrace reconciliation, which includes empathy to those who have lived through an attempt to eradicate their language and culture, to work with Council on a cultural enhancement process with First Nations, and to be open to putting First Nations language and culture back into the community.
“And particularly some of our longtime residents who have pioneer routes here, is to open themselves up to the fact that those pioneer roots are a very short history relative to the millennia of history and settlement that the First Nations have with this area. I think it should be common sense to people that at Ceal Tingley Park, if we’re putting the Lhtako Cultural Centre on that park, it’s going to take the lion’s share of the park up, it won’t be Ceal Tingley Park anymore.”
Simpson says that doesn’t mean there can’t be a plaque there that lets people know who Ceal Tingley was and why that’s significant.
He says they’re also looking at a possible new name for the Riverfront Trail itself, highlighting the Southern Carrier and the Lhtako’s relationship with the Quesnel/Fraser Rivers and Baker Creek.
Simpson says they are in the process of putting a new municipal campground on the river, and he says people shouldn’t be surprised that they’re working with the Lhtako on what an interesting name for that municipal campground would be, that again restores some of the connectivity of the Lhtako to the Quesnel River.
He says Council is also working with the Tsilhqot’in National Government and the Lhtako Dene to develop and design the memorial pavilion that will be put up near the helipad where the Tsilqot’in Chief memorial currently stands.
As for removing any names because of their ties to residential schools, Simpson says he’s not aware of any in the community right now, but he says should they be made aware of that, then they will deal with them on a case by case basis.