'These acts are not medicine': Vancouver Island First Nations call for end of vandalism

Nine Vancouver Island First Nations have issued a joint statement calling for all acts of vandalism and destruction to stop as the country grapples with the discovery of children's remains at former residential school sites across Canada.

Leaders of the nine nations say that recent vandalism, including the toppling of a statue in Victoria and the fire set at a totem pole along the Malahat Highway, are damaging for everyone in the community.

"We are all residents in this region and we need to respect each other," said the leaders in a joint open letter on Friday.

"These acts are not medicine, they fuel hate and inhibit the healing that is so deeply needed right now," they said. "The disrespectful and damaging acts we have seen are not helping, they are perpetuating hurt, hate, and divide."

The letter was signed by leaders from the following nations:

  • Songhees Nation
  • Esquimalt Nation
  • Beecher Bay First Nation
  • T’Sou-ke Nation
  • Malahat First Nation
  • Tsawout First Nation
  • Tsartlip First Nation
  • Pauquachin First Nation
  • Tseycum First Nation

"We are writing this letter because we need to work together towards the goals that strengthen our community and bonds with each other," said the leaders.

The nations took a firm stance saying any vandalism that occurred was not supported by their communities.

"All vandalism must stop immediately," reads the letter. "Let's lock arms, walk together, and look out for one another."

"Please do not lose sight of the young ones that we are honouring, and please listen to our Elders and survivors."

The letter in full can be read below.