B.C. renames provincial marine park near Nanaimo
The British Columbia government has officially renamed a provincial marine park near Nanaimo in recognition of its significance to local Indigenous culture.
The former Newcastle Island Marine Park is now called Saysutshun (pronounced SAY-sut-shun) Park to acknowledge its connection to the culture of the Snuneymuxw people.
Saysutshun is a place known for healing and transformation, and the name refers specifically to the island's use as a place of preparation for hunting and various ceremonies, the B.C. Environment Ministry said in a statement Monday.
Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Michael Wyse says the island is sacred to Snuneymuxw people and their history.
"Over time, our Saysutshun village was unlawfully taken from our nation without our consent," Wyse said in the statement.
"While renaming the park to our village site is a symbolic and meaningful step forward, it is another action that moves us closer to returning the land back to us," he added. "Sharing the history with the public through culturally appropriate programming is important as well, creating equality, awareness and harmony in our society."
Ancestors of the Snuneymuxw people used the island to train and prepare themselves physically, mentally and spiritually for ceremonial events and hunting, the province said.
"Reintroducing Indigenous names to provincial parks is an important act of recognition of Indigenous Peoples' relationship with the places they have lived for many millennia, and acknowledgement of their history, traditions and culture," said Environment Minister George Heyman.
"Reconnecting with our natural environment, learning from history and teaching people about how to best live together is one of the best things we can be doing now as part of our journey of reconciliation to build a better future," the minister added.
Newcastle Island Marine Park was established in October 1961 with an extensive network of trails leading to various historic points. The island includes evidence of at least two Salish villages that were deserted before the discovery of coal in the area in 1849, according to the province.