Nelson city council has adopted an acknowledgement of indigenous people to be used at city-sponsored events.
The statement reads: “The City of Nelson acknowledges all aboriginal peoples on whose traditional territories we stand. We honour their connection to the land and rivers and respect the importance of the environment to our strength as a community.”
Councillor Valerie Warmington did the background work for the statement along with the city’s Cultural Development Committee, which has an aboriginal representative.
“It is long overdue that we honour the people who were here before us,” Warmington told the Star. “We want to acknowledge them and express our commitment to moving forward in a positive relationship.”
Warmington said several groups have laid claim to this area, but “city council does not have the expertise to make that determination. That is why we are generic in our language. We know many people have stories that connect them to this area and we want to honour all of them.”
Warmington said the statement will be used at city events but suggested other organizations may wish to use it as well. The Kootenay Lake school district adopted a similar statement a year ago which opens each board meeting: “We acknowledge, respect and honour the First Nations in whose traditional territories the Kootenay Lake school district operates and all aboriginal people residing within the boundaries of School District 8.”
The original acknowledgement as presented to council used the word “indigenous” rather than “aboriginal.” Councillors Robin Cherbo and Bob Adams said they wanted it changed to “aboriginal” because that is the term used in the Constitution. Adams is the local president of the Nelson and Area Métis Society.
Warmington said “indigenous” is coming into more common usage and is used by the United Nations. However, the motion was passed using “aboriginal’ on the understanding council could change it in the future if it wishes.