Í:xel Sq'eq'ó—Together We Paddle
LAND BACK: A MODEL FOR LOCALLY-DRIVEN RECONCILIATION
THE CHALLENGE: In 2011, the Province of British Columbia approached several Stó:lō First Nation chiefs and councils in the central Fraser Valley seeking their support for a Crown-sponsored grant and the transfer of 60 hectares of land to the City of Mission. Most of the chiefs were inclined to support the transfer. However, Máthxwi (Matsqui) First Nation Councillor Brenda Morgan held off, asking why a First Nation would hand over Crown land to the City of Mission when the land initially belonged to the Indigenous people of the area.
THE CHANGE MAKERS: Over the course of discussions and plans for the LMS Society to receive the land, the Nations understood that 50 hectares were to be allocated to the City of Mission for the purposes of developing a park. The LMS Society would develop the two remaining parcels for much-needed housing in the area. The LMS Society leadership recognized that relationships with the City of Mission were vital to the success of the land transfer and development, while city officials were supportive of the innovative land ownership strategy.
The LMS Society proposed to offer a 99-year lease of the land to the City of Mission at a nominal fee. In return, the City of Mission suggested creating a joint, collaborative park management committee, made up of LMS and Mission staff. The LMS Society would also gain a space in which to share cultural events for both communities to attend and enjoy.
THE OUTCOMES: The 60 hectares of land is located east of Mission’s downtown, in a populated urban and suburban area, adjacent to a community park and former residential school lands. According to a survey plan by LMS Society, out of the 60 hectares of land, just over 12 hectares (30 acres) will be subdivided for economic opportunities for the LMS Society communities.
Photo Description: An agreement was signed by the Province, Leq’á:mel, Matsqui and Sumas First Nations and the City of Mission to return traditional lands to the First Nations and establish new public parklands and recreation areas. (Province of British Columbia/Flickr)