There was a powerful silence inside Township council chambers on Monday night, as three members of the Kwantlen First Nation gave an emotional thank you to council and staff.
Chief Marilyn Gabriel, who attended the meeting with her husband, Kevin Kelly, and son, Michael Kelly Gabriel, spoke many kind words, and drummed an honour song, to express their gratitude for the Township facilitating a transfer of municipal land on Brae Island to the Kwantlen First Nation.
The bylaw, which council unanimously passed, will remove park dedication from a 3.7 acre lot in the 9400 block of Glover Road, adjacent to the Kwantlen First Nation on Brae Island in Fort Langley. This will enable it to be transferred to Seyem’ Qwantlen Land Development Ltd., which manages Kwantlen First Nation business activities and opportunities.
“I felt it in my heart to come and speak to you and the people of the Langley community,” Marilyn said. “It’s a really emotional day for our people to have this parcel returned.”
An anonymous donor purchased the lot so it could be transferred to the Kwantlen First Nation, in recovery of lands considered to be part of their traditional territory.
An alternative approval process to obtain elector approval for the transaction was held this spring. With less than 1 per cent of the Township’s eligible voters submitting petitions against the park lot’s disposal, it was allowed to proceed.
“I have to say I didn’t think I would see this in my lifetime,” Marilyn said.
“At the end of the day we’re all family, and today, you have proven that. I don’t stand here for myself or my family. I stand here tonight for my ancestors who have fought for this land.
“I feel like crying but I don’t want to cry. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”