Telte Yet Campsite will soon be home to about 40 Trans Mountain pipeline workers.
The announcement was made at the Hope recreation site on Monday, Aug. 16. It is owned and operated by the Chawathil First Nation, who held a groundbreaking ceremony there to share the news with the community. The ceremony included short speeches from stakeholders, several traditional prayer songs, celebratory shovels in the ground, witnesses speaking about the land, and a meal for the attendees.
There will be upgrades made to the campsite to accommodate the housing, which will be occupied by pipeline workers for the length of the project. That is estimated to be completed in a few months, and will bring much-needed improvements to the campground.
One of the witnesses was Sonny McHalsie, an historical researcher and cultural interpreter for Sto:ló. He spoke about the importance of the land the campsite sits on, which is just a slice of what was “given” to the First Nation people of the area by Joseph Trutch. Originally, all of Hope was supposed to be given to today’s ancestors in the area.
“They formed us into smaller confines,” he said.
These days, McHalsie said, the Chawathil band that oversees the land has “taken a keen interest in taking care of our resources.”
That includes partnering with groups like Kiewet, Trans Mountain and Macro, who will be working together to build the housing. Kiewet workers will live there for the duration of the project, and likely injecting the local economy with a financial boost. The campsite is within walking distance to downtown shops, services and restaurants.
Councillor Monica Florence helped organize and emcee the event. She said one of the benefits of the partnership will be that they can retain the trees on the land while improving it. The trees, and the way they grow bald or bare along the Fraser River, are an important part of the land.
She also said the rental income from the campsite has always gone to support programs for youth and elders in their community, and that will continue to be the case with the rental to Kiewet.
“We want our community be taken in the right direction,” she said.
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