The Lheidli T’enneh are calling it ‘reconciliation in action.’
For the second time in the province’s history, a private landowner has gifted land to a First Nation. Abbotsford resident Penelope Harris has given two parcels of land in the Willow River area to the Lheidli T’enneh in recognition of their being the stewards of their traditional territory, which includes Willow River.
“I bought the two parcels ‘site-unseen’ when I heard about the university coming to Prince George,” said Harris. “There was optimism that the city and communities around Prince George would grow as the university grew and I thought it was a good investment.”
She put the parcels up for a sale a few years ago, but given that they are in an undeveloped area of Willow River, there weren’t any takers. The parcels are each 6,000 square feet and are assessed at $5,700 each.
She then looked at other options to divest herself of the properties and decided to gift them to the Lheidli T’enneh.
“I wanted the land to be taken care of and I certainly couldn’t guarantee that any government was going to do it,” Harris said. “I was thrilled when I contacted the Western Canada Wilderness Committee who suggested this as an option … I’m delighted, I just wish I had more.”
Chief Clay Pountney and the band were also thrilled at the gift.
“We are honoured and appreciate Ms. Harris’ generous gift and, on behalf of all our members, want to thank her for her kindness. “The Lheidli T’enneh have always welcomed visitors to our lands and we will always think of Ms. Harris as one of us.”
Pountney, along with band councillors Helen Buzas and Josh Seymour, presented Harris with a Lheidli T’enneh blanket and jacket in appreciation of the gift.
“British Columbians have only recently begun to hear and learn about reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous communities,” Pountney said. “Thanks to Ms. Harris we now have an excellent example of reconciliation in action where an individual has gifted our nation with two parcels of land which we appreciate and we’ll remember her generosity for generations to come.”