Fraser River Heritage Park Event Planning Update

With COVID-19-related gathering restrictions lifted, large City-sponsored outdoor community events are once again being carefully planned at Fraser River Heritage Park.

Fraser River Heritage Park is the site of the former St. Mary’s boarding school which operated from 1867 to 1961, and as part of the town’s ongoing efforts to become a town of reconciliation, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide the community an update on the City’s activities taking place at the park in support of truth and reconciliation.

Relationship building and learning

Long before the City of Mission was established in 1892, the Stó:lō had occupied these lands since time immemorial. About ten years ago, the Leq’á:mel, Mathexwi and Semá:th First Nations formed the LMS Society and began negotiating the return of traditional lands east of the Fraser River Heritage Park from the Province of British Columbia. Cross-community forums and meetings with Chiefs, Councilors and staff of the Leq’á:mel, Mathexwi and Semá:th First Nations and the Mayor, Council and staff of the Town of Mission were held.

These meetings are essential for developing relationships, learning more about the lands, and collaborating and engaging on projects that shape this city.

Interpretive panels project

Interpretive signs were put up to describe and educate park users about the history of the site by the Mission Heritage Association years ago. In 2015, the Acting Director of the Mission Schools Indigenous Department raised concerns about the interpretive signs in the park because they did not adequately express the intent or damage caused by the system. boarding schools.

Signs have been removed and replaced with placeholder signs, and work is underway with local First Nations to improve signage throughout the park. Through discussions related to the park, its history and its future, the project could evolve into the development of more than signage. Project timelines will be shared when available.

Event booking

Event organizers throughout the Lower Mainland hold their events at Fraser River Heritage Park and the booking process now includes a statement reflecting the park’s history as a boarding school in a step towards better communication. This statement recognizes the ongoing impacts of the displacement and separation of entire generations of children from their families, elders, culture and homes when they were forced to attend St. Mary’s. It also indicates that ongoing research continues in the park by the Stó:lō Center for Research and Resource Management.

Development of the park maintenance plan with the company LMS

As part of the transfer of approximately 60 hectares of Crown land to the LMS Society last year, a park management plan will be developed collaboratively by the LMS Society and the City to maintain the natural character of the area , protect sensitive environmental features, enhance cultural and historical understanding, and guide improvements over time. Details of the plan will come at a later date.

Learn more about Indigenous relations in mission.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress related to the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.