Letter: Time for this particular story to come to an end

Editor: Re:  Fort public art proposal meets with resistance, (The Times, Oct. 23).

I would like to thank the Langley Times for reporting on the proposed art that will cover the BC Hydro power boxes which will soon replace the power poles currently in use in the village of Fort Langley.

However the article paints a picture of controversy where there is none.

The idea that was presented to council was intended to bring about critical thought and dialogue on several matters that often get left to the wayside at the municipal level of government in the Township of Langley — indigenous rights and title, representation of cultures, historical wrongs, present day wrongs, and the unceremonious remapping of the terrain, and subsequent removal of any visual constructs of our indigenous history.

Albeit, power boxes in no way are congruent with the kind of indigenous artwork tokenistically replete in tourist meccas across the province of B.C.

What story is told about Fort Langley that everyone is familiar with? The Indians wandered around aimlessly in the rain forests for tens of thousands of years, devoid of modern technologies, and then one day the fur traders arrived and traded pots and pans.

Then the Indians’ history ended, and modern civilization brought Western enlightenment, Victorian values and architecture, and the Indians became alcoholics and welfare bums who spend billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and waste it on liquor. Is that the story you know?

It’s the story I hear all the time.

Well, that story has run its course. It must come to an end.

The most troubling part of that narrative is that I hear it from our closest neighbours.

I hear it from so-called local historians. I hear that story over and over again, and it is perpetuated by our most influential citizens in Langley.

The most efficient way to do away with it, from a patriarchal perspective, is to remove any visual representation of the First Nations presence, and it is done with pride and arrogance by developers and the like.

I have had enough.

The Kwantlen people come from the most successful non-agricultural society that ever walked the planet.

Cultivating thousands of years of knowledge and history that allowed for a beautiful art form to flourish — an art form replete in every implement and tool necessary to thrive in a temperate climate, and ceremonial regalia that goes back at least 5,000 years.

Even the smallest visual representation of this living culture has meaning and significance. Not forgetting that it is also intrinsically tied to an ancient language called Hun’ke’me’num, which is only spoken here on these lands and nowhere else.

Those attributes should be coveted and treated with respect and dignity for those who come from this amazing history.

The last 148 years of colonialism sought to bring an end to this great culture.

Legislation that is still in effect today is utilized to the fullest extent of every successive wave of migration and settlement on these un-ceded lands, federal,  provincial, and municipal governments not withstanding.

Lets have a look at that trite architectural policy that Fort Langley is governed by in all developments.

It’s the blueprint of this arrogant, Eurocentric, patriarchal, divisive, and culturally narrow view of what is deemed “heritage” or important.

We can squabble about the aesthetic appeal of power boxes or we can tackle the real problems that exist in this seemingly idyllic image of a friendly and quaint community. Which, clearly, it is not.

Brandon Gabriel,

Kwantlen First Nation

Langley Times

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