A new greeting with deep roots has been added to the signs that travellers see when entering Chilliwack on the highway.
Decals with the Halq’eméylem phrase “Ey Kw’as Emi Elep” have been added to the large white signs at the east and west side of the city. As noted on the signs, it means “good that you came.”
The welcome greeting has been added in recognition of the Indigenous population in Chilliwack and the surrounding areas, the City of Chilliwack said Thursday.
They add that “supporting truth and reconciliation is an important council objective.”
The new additions on the signs also include a design that features a circle with concentric crescents, that “speaks to self, family, community and nation.”
The phrase and design were determined in consultation with Squiala First Nation Chief David Jimmie, President of Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe and the Stó:lō Nation Chiefs Council.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to further recognize the history and strong, continued presence of local First Nations communities,” said Mayor Popove. “While we hope that people will remain in their own communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to having people visit at a later date and these signs will provide a warm welcome to Chilliwack.”
“Reconciliation is complex and requires aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples to work together to build, maintain and strengthen respectful relationships while recognizing the past and building a future. Language and traditional art may not seem significant to some but are integral to who we are and where we come from,” added Chief Jimmie. “I am thankful to be working with the City of Chilliwack on various initiatives and see our Halq’eméylem welcome shared on city signs as we take incremental steps in improving our relationship. I am very excited to see the signs up and proud to be working with like-minded individuals.”
Chief Jimmie spoke with local artists Jared Deck and Carrielynn Victor regarding the design, which is not proprietary, but had Jared Deck digitize for the signage.
The western sign is located on Royalwood Drive, and the eastern sign sits at the corner of Chilliwack Central Road and McElwee Road.