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Letter: Truth and Reconciliation is not a one-day-a-year event

"The journey to Truth and Reconciliation can sometimes be a difficult one that makes us take pause and look deeply into blind spots and ignorance inside of us."
SLCC courtesy of Tourism Whistler
Leaders from the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, pictured, respond to a recent feature article about farming in the Pemberton Valley that they say missed the mark by failing to acknowledge Lil’wat Nation.

Pique Newsmagazine missed the mark on Truth and Reconciliation in the Aug. 18 edition.

In an edition that included a wonderful piece on the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre’s reconciliation canoe (thank you), you have eclipsed this good work with an uninformed and insensitive article on Pemberton farming.

Yes, we understand the theme of “Farm Grown” was primarily about an agricultural change in the Pemberton Valley. We were disappointed not to see any mention of the Lil’wat Nation in the opening paragraph, or really any proper land acknowledgment. There are cultural heritage sites sacred to the Lil’wat7ul in and around Pemberton “farmlands.” Any mention of Indigenous people is limited to the story of John Currie, mentioning that he married a St’at’imc/ Shuswap woman named Seraphine Tlekenak— and for too long media and colonial storytelling have used the “married an Indigenous woman” as a make-believe reflection of acceptance and camaraderie between settlers and the original peoples of this land.

Your article whitewashes the land farmers “acquired.” There’s nothing about the government pre-empting land and forcing the Lil’wat Nation onto tiny reserves mainly in flood zones with limited land fertility. Missing is the mention of restrictions made on Indigenous farmers, historically unable to build economic independence or the generational agricultural empires you write about because of land restrictions and an Indian Act that did not give them the freedom to leave reserve to sell their product. You are also missing any mention of the Lil’wat Nation Garden, Qwalíma Nlep’cálten, their goal of food sustainability and economic autonomy for the Lil’wat Nation.

Truth and Reconciliation isn’t a one-day- a-year event; and it reaches beyond the Arts and Culture section. To be effective it needs to be thought of consistently throughout the year.

We write this letter with love for the journalists and editors. This is not a “cancel- culture” letter, but one that asks you to do better as community leaders at the helm of information sharing. The journey to Truth and Reconciliation can sometimes be a difficult one that makes us take pause and look deeply into blind spots and ignorance inside of us. The path includes reporting the Truth, speaking up when it is not present, and caring for ourselves with love as we dismantle a system of hate and oppression that was built without so many consciously realizing it was there.

Kukw`stumc`kalap (Thank you all).

Mixalhítsa7 Alison Pascal // Lil’wat Nation
Heather Paul // Whistler