Young Snuneymuxw dancers put on a display of traditional dancing in front of an appreciative crowd Tuesday evening. They performed a welcoming dance to help usher in the people to the final of three lectures given by experts on the Douglas Treaties.
In spite of the rainstorm, the young people carried on, and were rewarded with a burst on sunshine and a rainbow at the end of their performance. They danced the people into the local library meeting room to hear the key speakers Grand Chief Shawn Atleo and Snuneymuxw Chief Douglas White speak about treaties signed in 1850 to 1854 when Vancouver Island was a fledgling Crown Colony of Britain. The policy at that time was to try to come to agreements with the indigenous people to allow the settlement of Europeans and to extract resources.
The treaties known as the Douglas Treaties or Vancouver Island Treaties have been the topics of an attempt to educate the public about their history and implications for the present. They have been forgotten and ignored by most of the ethnic European residents, but the First Nations have maintained their memories of the mutual agreements.
The local Vancouver Island University is working closely with the Snuneymuxw Nation to present a conference this May 10 and 11 regarding these important treaties.
For much of the modern history of Canada, treaties signed in good faith by both parties have been set aside and ignored as economics and settlements by new immigrants have marginalized the indigenous people. Well educated and assertive young native people are now working to educate the public about these forgotten agreements.