The chief of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation (KFN) asked Tri-City business leaders and politicians this week for specific actions to heed the call for reconciliation.
On Thursday (June 2), Chief Ed Hall addressed the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce (TCCC) during its inaugural Lunch with Leaders series to forge partnerships with the First Nation that has reserves in what is known today as Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.
His comments came at the start of National Indigenous Peoples History Month.
Hall also asked for more acknowledgement for sharing its unceded lands, noting he’s pleased with the progress made to date and the measures taken to pay respect to the ancestral territory.
Over the past few years, since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 calls to action, Hall said he has fielded hundreds of emails from industry leaders and others wanting to make a change.
“It’s uplifting to know that people are reaching out.”
Urging business leaders to hire Indigenous people, Hall also told the Chamber crowd at the Vancouver Golf Club about advancements since he was elected chief four years ago; his four-year term is up in March 2023.
Although he didn’t mention the ongoing land claims negotiations, Hall touched on efforts to revitalize the Halkomelem language, restore the salmon run in the Coquitlam watershed and erect public art pieces that bring meaning to KFN’s 10,000-year history in the area.
House posts at səmiq̓ʷəʔelə (pronounced Suh-mEE-kwuh EL-uh), formerly known as Riverview Hospital, as well as at the Coquitlam campus of Douglas College, and murals by Rosalie Dipcsu highlight artistic and cultural pride for the KFN, said Hall whose name in Halkomelem is sχəpχeyləm si:ýém.
During his talk, Hall also pointed to the future of IR2, a 200-acre parcel in Port Coquitlam that’s poised for commercial, light industrial and medium-density housing.
In March, the 121-member Nation, of which 37 per cent live on IR1 in Coquitlam, inked a servicing agreement with the City of PoCo to develop 30 acres. Hall said a land-use plan is anticipated by the end of the year, along with an environmental management plan.
“We are excited for the journey ahead,” he said.
The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce's next Lunch with Leaders is scheduled for Oct. 6. The speaker is not yet confirmed.