Vancouver park board chair apologizes to First Nations for remarks about Stanley Park

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      Vancouver park board chair Stuart Mackinnon has issued an apology to local First Nations for statements that he made about Stanley Park that were quoted in a local newspaper.

      In a September 18 article in the Vancouver Sun, Mackinnon had been commenting on the Vancouver park board voting unanimously on his motion to recognize Indigenous names for local parks and beaches.

      Mackinnon explained in the article that there wasn't a plan to rename parks, including Stanley Park.

      “The response we had from the Squamish people was that there was no reason to rename it because it never had a name," he stated in the article. "It was a forest.”

      However, today (October 25), he released the following apology in response to his comment about Stanley Park as being simply a forest:

      “I would like to apologize to the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples for my remarks. I understand that the area we now call Stanley Park was never ‘just a forest’; that since time immemorial the local indigenous peoples stewarded and inhabited the entire area, and that there are several places there that have hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh names. My remarks regarding the renaming of Stanley Park run counter to the spirit of the motion I submitted, which was to acknowledge and honour the place names throughout the region known to local First Nations.

      “Further, I hope that my misinformed statements do not hinder efforts to move forward with the motion, which was conceived as a means to rectify the injustice of the erasure of traditional place names in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and to restore and normalize the use of these languages throughout both indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

      "I regret that this misinformation was spread due to the emphasis on my perspective over those of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. They have long been available to speak with authority about their own languages, place names, and history and yet it is often my voice that is given prominence. I recognize that this is unfair, and in future I will strive to defer to voices from within the three Nations.”

      On April 18, the Vancouver park board had unanimously approved Mackinnon's motion that directed staff to analyze the organization's "colonial roots, as well as current practices" and to report back with recommendations "to acknowledge any and all injustices uncovered as part of the 'truth-telling' phase".