Williams Lake First Nation is the new name of the former Williams Lake Indian Band located in B.C.’s southern interior says Chief Willie Sellars who was joined with chief administrative officer Aaron Mannella on Monday, June 22. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

New name for First Nations community near Williams Lake

Formerly known as the Williams Lake Indian Band, the name change was unveiled Monday

A B.C. First Nation situated on the south end of Williams Lake has a new name.

The former Williams Lake Indian Band unveiled their new name, Williams Lake First Nation, on Monday at a groundbreaking ceremony for what will be B.C’s first farm-to-gate cannabis cultivation facility.

“We’re really excited,” said chief administrative officer, Aaron Mannella.

“This has actually been sometime in the making.”

Read More: B.C. Interior First Nation breaks ground on farm-to-gate cannabis cultivation facility

The name was legally changed in January but was not immediately divulged to the public to allow some time to get the new branding in place.

Mannella said there were a number of reasons for the name change including the recognition and celebration of their status as a government.

“But I look to our tagline: ‘culturally centered, future focused’ and it perfectly represents that bridge between the past and the future in terms of the community staying close to its roots, protecting and conserving heritage but also looking forward to the future generations of what can be achieved for social and economic benefit for all members of the Williams Lake First Nation,” he added.

Read More: WLIB breaks ground on $8 million-plus administration building construction project

Nearly 150 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake First Nation, Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation Kukpi7 (Chief) Patrick Harry offered his congratulations.

Before legally changing their name, his community used to be known as Canoe Creek Band.

“It’s a little more fitting I believe,” he said of the new name. “I always looked at ‘Indian Band’ as having a kind of colonial context to it.”

Mannella said the Indian Act is an oppressive document that segregated First Nations peoples in terms of their culture, land base and where they call home.

“As we know the entire region is unceded territory of Secwepemc people, of the Williams Lake First Nation,” he said.

“So in positioning ourselves as an order of government, an Aboriginal government, with constitutionally protected rights we think that in the year 2020 there couldn’t be a more appropriate name than the Williams Lake First Nation.”

(Correction: The distance between Williams Lake First Nation and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation is more than 100 kilometres.)

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