When the city of Prince George was being established a century ago, the aboriginal people on the site of the present downtown area were relocated to a new reserve and their homes were burned.
That’s a part of B.C. history that many people in Prince George and around the province don’t know, and an example of why changes are coming to B.C. school curriculum, says Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad.
More changes will be announced soon for post-secondary education, based on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The B.C. government is providing $4.3 million to establish an emergency financial assistance for aboriginal students and $12 million for a scholarship program.
“There have been attempts over the years to include more information around First Nations and our aboriginal history, but this is going quite a bit further and trying to tell a more complete history of us as Canadians, all Canadians,” Rustad said.
National Aboriginal Day is Sunday, June 21. Rustad will be in Prince George at a ceremony to rename Fort George Park to recognize the original inhabitants, the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. A Lheidli T’enneh flag will be raised at city hall where it will be permanently flown.
National Aboriginal Day events are planned around the province, including a three-day cultural festival at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria with dance, arts and crafts and traditional foods.
The past year has been pivotal for aboriginal relations in B.C., with the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision recognizing aboriginal title to traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in Nation near Williams Lake. The province is working on a protocol to manage access by non-aboriginal people to the Nemiah Valley, where provincial jurisdiction no longer applies.
While progress in treaty negotiations has been slow, the B.C. government continues to reach resource revenue sharing agreements with First Nations around the province, covering forestry, mining and oil and gas projects.