Monday, June 22, 2020

Langley City investigating plaque/interpretive sign about James Douglas

Earlier this month, I posted about James Douglas who was the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia.

Spirit Square Plaques in Douglas Park.

There is a street, park, recreation centre, neighbourhood, and community event named after him in Langley City. One of the things that people may not know about James Douglas is that he was mixed-race, and successfully encouraged people from the Black community in San Francisco to come and settle in BC.

An important conservation that we are having right now is around systematic racism in our government institutions. Systematic racism exists in policies, procedures, practices, and even in how our history is taught.

One of the ways that we can start to better understand the impacts of systematic racism in our province is to start sharing the complex history of BC, including the erasure of Black history.

With that in mind, Langley City Council passed the following motion at its June 15th meeting:

WHEREAS James Douglas was the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia; and

WHEREAS Langley was the first capital of the Colony of British Columbia; and

WHEREAS Douglas Park is named after James Douglas; and

WHEREAS James Douglas’ father was Scottish and his mother was a “free woman of colour”; and

WHEREAS James Douglas successfully encouraged people from the Black community in the US to immigrate to British Columbia;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Langley City staff work with the BC Black History Awareness Society and Kwantlen, Katzie, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations to erect a plaque and/or interpretive sign in Douglas Park, themed about James Douglas and the Black community in British Columbia, to be unveiled during Black History month in 2021; and

FURTHER THAT staff prepare a report to Council that includes the cost and content of the plaque and/or interpretive sign for approval by Council.

Acknowledging the role that James Douglas played in supporting the Black community in our province, while also acknowledging the devastation to Indigenous people caused by colonialism, is a small way that we can continue the conversation around systematic racism in Langley City.

I believe understanding our past equips us to make better decisions in the present.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nathan, for plaques would recommend a material which is less attractive to thieves. Last week while crossing the 203 railway overpass noticed and reported the disappearance of the 2 plaques installed at the south end.