Representatives from Katzie First Nation, as well as Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall unveiled a pair of park signs in the city, which include Katzie language translations.
The small ceremonies at Spirit Square and Waterfront Commons Park which took place Monday, March 8, have a much larger meaning for the local First Nation, whose members have been living on the land for thousands of years.
Chief Grace George called the revamped signs, ‘wonderful.’
“Our language is our most original connection to who we are as Katzie people,” she said.
“The cultural connection is significant to us all.”
The Katzie leader said she is proud of the ‘beautiful and meaningful’ names researched by two of the First Nation community’s language keepers, Cheyenne Cunningham and Leah Meunier.
Signs at Spirit Square will also say šxʷhék̓ ʷnəs, which is translated as ‘the place to remember him, her, it, them;’ and Waterfront Commons Park will also be identified as xcəwás, which means ‘front (water side) of the house.’
Chief George also thanked the city of Pitt Meadows, as well as its mayor, council and staff for the collective dedication to the important initiative.
“It means a lot to us as a people to see our sacred language and culture being recognized in our shared public spaces,” she said.
Mayor Dingwall said the new language shows respect for the First Nations community.
“We’re proud to work with Katzie,” he said.
“They came up with their own phrases they wanted to use, that resonated with their community, and the signs are on the two most important sites in Pitt Meadows,” the mayor said.
“One is next to our city hall, in Spirit Square and the other is down in South Pitt Meadows near the Fraser River, which is close to their nation as well.
“I think it was a really proud moment for me representing the city, and it was also a proud moment for Chief George, and her spouse, Damian.”
He said the signs are not just for the leaders of the community, however.
“These signs are for their youngsters, their elders and everybody in between,” Dingwall said.
“To see Katzie First Nation language on signs that are erected by the city is really important.”
Chief George said she would love to see a ‘Welcome to Katzie First Nation territory’ with the “Welcome to the City of Pitt Meadows’ signage.
“Katzie people have occupied these lands for more than 10,000 years, so I think our history is equally as important to acknowledge at the entrance of the city.”
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