Celebrating Connections on National Aboriginal Day

Journeys can take many roads. They can be travelled by land or water, they can be physical or emotional or a combination of all of these things. For the First Nations of British Columbia, the journey toward cultural understanding with western culture has been a long and emotional one. It has taken many routes across our beautiful province in order to find recognition and build a brighter future for its people. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has had the privilege of being on a small part of this historic journey and in honour of National Aboriginal Day, we want to highlight some of the transportation milestones we have been able to reach alongside the First Nations of British Columbia.

The overpass illuminated along Highway 99 at night

As part of the journey, we recently unveiled the Squamish Pedestrian Overpass on Highway 99 (about 1.4 km south of Squamish). The overpass connects Squamish Nation land on either side of the highway and railway. We partnered with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and the Squamish Nation to employ a First Nation artist who collaborated with the overpass designers. Several First Nations cultural elements are incorporated into the design and the end result is a unique, beautiful and culturally significant overpass. We hope you will agree.

In conjunction with the Cultural Journey (Phase II), we also partnered with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to have their Youth Ambassador Program produce a short video about the First Nation legend associated with the design of the Squamish Pedestrian Overpass. Their colourful and fun video outlines a small piece of the cultural history of the Squamish Lil’wat people.

The Kitasoo/Xai’xais peoples along the coast of British Columbia now have a new ferry terminal, delivered in part by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The terminal was officially opened in Klemtu, August 12, 2011 and reflects the culture of coastal First Nations people, including those who live in this remote village of about 400 residents on Swindle Island. BC Ferries will now stop in Klemtu with the Northern Expedition, which travels the scenic inside passage between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert.

Kitasoo/Xai’xais and other coastal First Nations representatives gather to meet the Northern Expedition.

The new terminal is a major benefit to Klemtu, which can be reached only by sea and air. Travel for health care, education and employment is now easier and safer for community members. Goods and services also move with greater ease, creating new economic opportunities as the community diversifies from fishing, to tourism, aquaculture and forestry. To learn more about the project, read our blog.

And so today we would like to thank the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, the Squamish Lil’wat and all First Nations communities across the province who are working with us on the journey to connect all British Columbians and keep them safe on their journeys.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” D. Williams Jr.

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