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District of Squamish council unanimously endorses Wa Iy̓ím ta Sḵwx̱wú7mesh protocol

The protocol outlines ways the District and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) can work together to advance reconciliation.
Coun. Sxwíxwtn Wilson Williams. Paul McGrath / North Shore News

Squamish council members took another step forward in reconciliation with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) at a recent committee of the whole meeting.

On Tuesday, July 11, council members unanimously endorsed the Wa Iy̓ím ta Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Strong) protocol between the Nation and District of Squamish. With the approval, the District and the Nation plan to have a signing ceremony, tentatively planned for early next week.

The District report on the protocol describes it as a “value-based relationship agreement” with guidance on how the Nation and District can “work together to advance reconciliation.”

“More detailed work will come out in a series of memoranda of understanding on shared priorities [and] shared projects that will get into the more nitty-gritty of how we're going to complete the work,” said Aja Peterson, research and projects co-ordinator with the District. 

At least one of the future activities includes Nexwsxwníw̓ntm ta Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation council) and District council getting together.

“We are organizing a council-to-council meeting to occur in the fall,” said District CAO, Linda Glenday. “So that the two councils will have the opportunity to discuss face-to-face new initiatives.”

Mayor Armand Hurford said he was “humbled” to be a part of the signing and moment.

“​​I'm proud to be a part of this point in history, which I expect to be a big building block towards the future of this relationship,” he said.

Sxwíxwtn Wilson Williams, a Squamish Nation councillor and spokesperson, said in a follow-up interview that he was looking forward to connecting with the District and council members.

“We can collaborate, work together strategically, find effective and efficient solutions so we can move together forward,” he said.

Other District councillors also looked to the protocols as a basis for muni to grow with the Nation.

“It sets the foundation for how we're going to continue to work in a good way with this conversation going forward,” said Coun. Jenna Stoner. “There's some really strong language in the protocol agreement that to me really speaks to how we will work together and how we are committing to showing up as a District to advance towards reconciliation.”

For example, one of the guiding principles in the protocol is Chet wa telnexw fina tl'a snewiyelh tl'a Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh, which means to “learn the advice of the Squamish.”

“We're going to open a door to continue to accept injustices of the past, correct those injustices and create new opportunities,” Coun. John French summarized.

Squamish was not the only municipal government taking on these protocols this month. Also on July 11, the City of Vancouver council voted unanimously, with one councillor absent, to sign the protocol and the City of North Vancouver council also voted to unanimously sign the protocol on July 10.

Williams said that these three municipal governments were “priorities” for the Nation to implement these protocols since reserve lands and traditional territories are located in the regions.

“Squamish is the heart of the Squamish Nation with many cultural sacred sites,” he said, adding St’a7mes is one of the oldest villages in the Nation. “​​This history, it not only grounds the community, but it prepares for the future for our people.”

Williams also addressed the City of Vancouver council on July 11. 

“The spirit of why we're here today, Wa Iy̓ím ta Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, which is Squamish strong, which is the theme behind the protocol agreement that we are discussing this morning,” he said at the City of Vancouver council meeting. “It is with great pride that I say this phrase because it was only a short while ago that we didn't feel all that strong.”

“We are redefining our relationship with the outside world and we look forward to walking together with the city to build an understanding on these principles to continue the work of reconciliation together,” he continued.

View the Wa Iy̓ím ta Sḵwx̱wú7mesh protocol in full from the July 11 council agenda on the District’s website.






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