This Wednesday, March 30th, the culmination of over a year’s work will come to fruition with the grand opening of SMONEĆTEN park.

An illustration of the ecosystem of SMONEĆTEN, showcases the resilience of W̱SÁNEĆ people who have been on the land since time immemorial. Illustration by artist Sarah Jim

SMONEĆTEN park and campground, formerly known as McDonald Campground in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is located near the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. Last year, as one of many renaming projects underway, the WLC in partnership with Parks Canada was pleased to announce the removal of the colonial name and restoration of the park’s traditional name

As part of the reinstatement of W̱SÁNEĆ language, history, and culture on the land, four hand-carved cedar poles and an interpretive display were unveiled at the campground in May of 2021. The displays feature the words of W̱SÁNEĆ Elders and share how the site was once a place to gather liquid pitch, also known as sap, from Douglas fir trees.

At last year’s renaming ceremony,  Chief Don Tom, Chairman of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council shared:

“In the heart of W̱SÁNEĆ Territory, right next to the old village of W̱SI,I,KEM, SMONEĆTEN is a place where people would go to harvest the materials they needed to thrive. As these places were taken from W̱SÁNEĆ people, new names were placed on the landscape and our presence in the eyes of settlers was diminished. But, within W̱SÁNEĆ culture, this information was never forgotten. We held it tight to our chest waiting for people to listen once again. Today, I am proud to see the government begin the process of listening by taking these small steps toward preserving and honouring W̱SÁNEĆ culture and history.”

“Reopening the park, on its 30 year anniversary, under its rightful sacred name is really something to celebrate.” shares Elder Eric Pelkey “It’s the culmination of over a year’s work.”

This Wednesday’s Grand Opening ceremony will take place from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and will include speakers, songs, and dance. 

Elders will open the ceremony with prayers and speakers. There will be a presentation from WLC’s Environmental Committee explaining the importance of the ecosystem of the place as well as speakers from the Art Committee sharing the significance of the carving and artwork on the signage. Also part of the ceremony will be song and dance from students from the ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School.

“We hope to record the ceremony to share it with the wider community on our website” continues Pelkey.

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