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Lekwungen cultural project at Inner Harbour gets federal financial boost

Artwork, interpretive signs and language displays on the lower causeway would show the importance of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to the region and its history
Lower causeway at the Inner Harbour below Government Street. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

An Inner Harbour project showcasing Lekwungen culture has received $49,000 in federal funding for a tourism and public-space project.

The project, planned for the harbour’s lower causeway, could include artwork, interpretive signs and language displays to show the importance of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to the region and its history.

The $49,000 is going to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, in partnership with the Songhees and Esquimalt people.

“We are proud to work in partnership with the Xwsepsum [Esquimalt] Nation and Songhees Nation on this important project that brings a stronger presence of the Lekwungen culture and history to the Inner Harbour,” said GVHA chief executive Robert Lewis-Manning. “This area is of great significance to the nations, and we look forward to incorporating more Lekwungen art, language and culture at the lower causeway.”

Judy Kitts, the GVHA’s First Nations engagement manager, said the work will include updating some existing signage along the causeway, and more detailed plans are still being developed. “There will be a lot of photographs, maybe some storytelling, depending on what the nations want to share.”

Kitts said the spots being looked at include 18 metres of dock space in the GVHA marina already earmarked for use by the nations, the area around the marina gates and an area on the south side of the causeway often used to welcome guests to ­Lekwungen territory.

“We’re going to be working with some Lekwungen artists, hopefully some youth artists and perhaps some elders, as well,” she said. The artwork is scheduled to be installed in the spring of 2024.

The federal grant for the Lekwungen project is one of 16 totalling $2.6 million announced for a range of tourism and public-space initiatives on Vancouver Island and in B.C. coastal communities.

The largest grant is $750,000 for the K’omoks First Nation to establish a community park and gathering space in Comox.

In downtown Victoria, Infusion Edutainment XR Amusement Park, a virtual-reality arcade, received $420,000 to create new content and buy new equipment to attract a wider base of tourists.

Another $500,000 is going toward repairs to Broughton Pier.

The funded projects were announced in Comox by Harjit S. Sajjan, minister of emergency preparedness and minister responsible for Canada’s Pacific Economic Development Agency.

About $1.9 million came from the Tourism Relief Fund, with the $750,000 for the K’ómoks First Nation initiative coming from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund.

“From unique outdoor adventure and cultural experiences to breathtaking parks, lakes and heritage sites, Vancouver Island and the coast of B.C. is a world-class place to visit or call home,” Sajjan said. “Investing in shared public spaces and tourism experiences will bring communities together and ensure that the Island and coastal regions thrive well into the future.”

Other Island communities benefiting from the announcement include Sooke, Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet, Courtenay, Kyuquot, Nanaimo and Zeballos.

Sooke’s project is a $99,999 dual zipline at AdrenaLINE Adventure Tours. The same amount went to CVS Tours to purchase three new double-decker buses to serve Butchart Gardens.

Funding of $18,000 went to Tofino’s Inter-Island Excursions to revamp the company’s heritage boathouse, while Ucluelet’s Sutton Homestead Lodging received $16,789 for a red-cedar barrel sauna and electric heater at its remote lodge facility.

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Note to readers: This story has been corrected. A previous version said that the Lekwungen cultural project was receiving $549,000. Incorrect information was provided by the federal government.

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