I am writing about the proposed consultation process around the Turkey Head property at the Oak Bay Marina also known as Spewhung by the Lekwongen-speaking people.
This property is probably Oak Bay’s most valuable asset – waterfront property with access to beaches, magnificent views and landing areas for watercraft. It is within walking distance of most commercial areas of Oak Bay and is seen by thousands of people daily and millions of tourists annually.
I encourage the council to continue a consultation process that includes discussions on what could and can be done with this site. Keep in mind the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations must be part of this discussion and comprise at least 1,000 people living on-reserve. But there are 17,000 other urban Indigenous people living off-reserve in Victoria who are part of the Victoria Urban Reconciliation Dialogues (VURD) who must also be consulted.
These citizens come from First Nations communities throughout B.C. and across Canada whose land was taken from them and they are a growing population. They are now taxpayers, valuable members of our community whose work enriches us and whose contributions have long been ignored. We must include all urban Indigenous people in our consultation process as VURD is doing.
The people of Oak Bay could use Spewhung as a process of reconciliation. They could share this asset with all people living in Victoria and they could make this property a national site for reconciliation. This is all possible but it takes leadership and commitment. I am asking mayor and council to lead and commit to reconciliation.