“I have paid with my heart and soul. There is no free.”

Did you get the chance to read the feature in the Pique earlier this month, sharing some of Lil’wat Nation’s pride and opportunity building work?

Click on the link or the photo to read the entire feature. Thanks to Braden Dupuis for writing this story.

For your morning skim-read, I wanted to share some of my favourite bits here:

Lil’wat Chief Dean Nelson stands on the edge of the First Nation’s four-hectare community farm, on a warm Friday morning in early July.

A group of four Lil’wat youth work diligently in the field before us as Nelson looks on.

“They’re pretty happy here, because it’s a very good environment,” Nelson says, watching them work.

“They’re all really connected to it, and invested in it, and that makes a big difference.”

The farm has come a long way in three short years, he says, and now supplies produce boxes to the community for purchase each Friday.

Nelson says he will often take photos of its crops to share with the community, and marvels at how something so simple as a sack of potatoes can create so much pride.

“That sack of potatoes, it’s just a sack of potatoes, but it’s just where it comes from, and how it’s packaged. It’s just amazing,” Nelson says.

“We are growing emotion, you know? The emotion of pride.”

Even with literal centuries of presence on the land, some still raise questions about archeological studies, and the legitimacy of First Nations land claims in Whistler.

In Nelson’s view, teaching the history and complexities of the Indian Act and reservation system would also help create a broader understanding between the communities.

Some people don’t understand, Nelson says; sometimes all they see is First Nations people getting things for “free.”

“There’s nothing free. I paid with my heart and my soul, growing up here, with all the stuff that happened to our people,” Nelson says.

“The trauma is still here. It’s passed on. If you don’t stop it, then you pass it on to your children whether you know it or not.”

“Hopefully we get used to good things.”

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