In 2017 we officially partnered with the Township of Langley and the Kwantlen First Nation to produce ABM Indigenous: Lower Mainland at the Langley Events Centre. The partnership has yielded amazing results and relationships that have strengthened our bond and created success for their members and our delegates.
The Township was established on the unceded territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, and Matsqui First Nations. They have demonstrated a true commitment to facilitating and encouraging economic reconciliation. They value a relationship where inclusivity, heritage and diversity are recognized and celebrated.
We want to highlight some of the work they’ve done to fulfil their mission of inclusive economic partnerships, and to show you how they integrate Indigenous culture into municipal projects.
In 2018, the Township announced their plans to transform Fort Langley into a community hub that celebrates history, heritage, the arts, Indigenous culture, and recreation. Two new museums, a library, conference centre, Indigenous-themed lodge accommodations, new homes and shops, along with park and trail improvements, are proposed. This in acknowledgment not only of the history of the region’s first peoples, but also of the major role Indigenous culture plays in enhancing and encouraging tourism. A member of Seyem’ Qwantlen Business Group, the economic development arm of the Kwantlen Nation, sits on the Board of Directors of Tourism Langley.
Also in 2018 they collaborated with the Kwantlen First Nation on a Smart Cities Challenge submission to the Government of Canada. It proposed leveraging technology to educate and share connections, values and traditions in new and engaging ways with local indigenous communities and with diverse audiences. It also included a plan to share, relate and educate future generations on local indigenous language, history, traditions, and culture. but discussions regarding the project concept moves forward nonetheless.
And in the last year the Economic Investment and Development Department of the Township of Langley acquired local art from members of the Sto:Lo First Nations, with the assistance of social enterprise, Nations Creations. Coasters and bookmarks designed by Kwantlen artists Wes Antone and Brandon Gabriel will now be used for gifts to dignitaries and international delegations.
The Fraser River Presentation Theatre in the Township’s Civic Centre is more visual proof of their commitment to honoring Indigenous culture. They developed The Community of Communities Photo Mosaic Initiative as a Legacy Project recognizing the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Canada in 2017. A mural was created by Artist q̓ ʷɑt̓ ic̓ ɑ (Phyllis Atkins), of the Kwantlen First Nation. The mural panels included more than 1100 portrait photographs repeated several times over, featuring residents from the seven communities that comprise the Township of Langley and residents of Kwantlen First Nation from McMillan Island in Fort Langley. Graphic design and much of the project management was completed by Seyem’ -owned Pictographic Creative.
Val Gafka, Senior Manager, Economic Investment and Development for the Township of Langley, tells us they’re currently developing a future Economic Investment and Development Strategy, which they hope to bring to Mayor and Council for consideration within a year. “Continued economic reconciliation is considered a foundational piece of our proposed future strategy. We were thrilled to engage in a community-to-community forum July 10th on a range of items and opportunities that may hold consideration opportunities in that future strategy.”
Learn more about the work the Township does to support and promote their region on their website at www.invest.tol.ca. From there you can download their Economic Profile booklet. We look forward to learning about their future plans, and we encourage you to meet with them at the next ABM Indigenous: Lower Mainland.
Photo: Welcome Ceremony, ABM Indigenous: Lower Mainland, 2017.