Plague Event July 2022

The new plaque prior to unveiling
Photo: Madeleine MacLean

The new plaque, unveiled, which reads "Welcome to Xwe'etay (Yew Tree). 
We honour the ancestral Indigenous Peoples of this island"
Photo: Mary Kelly

Timed for the low-low tide window, we gathered in Squitty Bay to unveil a beautiful plaque that proclaims that, “We honour the ancestral Indigenous Peoples of Xwe’etay”.  Despite unbelievably stormy weather, community members from five Nations braved the seas to join about 70 Lasquetians to honor the Indigenous past of the island.  The plaque was first suggested by Tanis, who rightfully wanted to counter the other plaque at Squitty, which recognizes the “discovery” of the island by the Spanish. This small act – of placing a plaque that honors the Indigenous People of Xwe’etay, was profoundly meaningful to the local Nations who have deep ancestral connections to the island.  For many in the settler community, placing the plaque was a small way of recognizing and correcting past “truths” about Lasqueti’s history, and in doing so, extending and deepening their own connections to this island.

We gathered in the hall after the unveiling to share food and words and moments of warmth and empowerment.  For many in all communities, the day was deeply healing and many spoke of the bridges that were created.  As said by Kim Recalma-Clutesi, whose brother is the hereditary chief of the Qualicum Nation territory that includes Xwe’etay, “our stomachs and our hearts are full.”  Kim also spoke to all of us to move on together to heal past wrongs.

"You know, we've been fighting for a long time. And we've been advocates for a long time…It's time for us to hear your kind words and your gestures. To hear it and embrace it.  But it's also time for you to put the guilt down. Because they're both debilitating... And our path forward is working together. We don't give you permission to [feel guilt]. We give you permission to move forward and do more of what you've done."

All people present recognized that the plaque event was a significant start of that movement forward.

Kim Recalma-Clutesi and Dana Lepofsky unveiling the new plaque.
Photo: Madeleine MacLean

Feast at the hall after the unveiling
Photo: Emily Carnes

We'd like to give a huge thanks for all those who attended this historic day. To the people who travelled over to share the afternoon with us, to everyone who brought delicious food, to those who helped with driving people to and from the ferries, everyone who jumped in to help set up, clean up, take photos, and make the day run so smoothly. Thank you to everyone who bravely spoke to a room of 100 people, and shared their feelings, commitments, and memories with us. The words said will reverberate through generations as we continue on this journey of decolonization and relationship building.  

We'd also like to thank the members of BC Parks who made the new plaque possible, and to Jesse Recalma, who's beautiful logo design will forever be situated at Squitty Bay, reminding us all of the deep story of Xwe'etay.

First Nations neighbours from Tla’amin, K’omoks, Qualicum, and Tsimshian Nations gathering around the newly erected plaque at Squitty Bay.
Photo: Madeleine MacLean