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Province and Semá:th agree on the sacred Lightning Rock site purchase

In a major step towards the shared reconciliation journey between the province of British Columbia and the Sumas First Nation (Semá:th), a landmark land deal was finalized between the two. As part of the deal, the province has purchased thirty-six hectares of undeveloped private property in Semá:th territory. The Lightning Rock site holds deep cultural and spiritual significance, serving as a repository of traditions and narratives passed down through generations, and this deal further strengthens the acknowledgement of a site sacred to the Sumas First Nation (Semá:th).

Semá:th Chief Dalton Silver expressed his happiness on the deal, saying “we are pleased to hear that the Lightning Rock site has finally received the recognition it deserves as a sacred site for the Semá:th people.” He also extended his gratitude towards Semá:th, the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance (STSA), John Glazema, Cold Water Ranch, and all those within the government who played a role in moving this forward. “This land deal acknowledgment marks a positive step in the right direction towards reconciliation,” the chief added.

Since 2017, the Semá:th people and the province have been working together to protect the Lightning Rock site for heritage and cultural purposes. They have collaborated closely in charting a path forward to achieve this goal. The province purchased the Lightning Rock site as part of ongoing negotiations with Semá:th, and will keep the property for some time until an agreement with Semá:th is reached and the land transfer process can be completed. The province of British Columbia and Semá:th will continue to consult with other local First Nations, municipal officials, residents, and stakeholders as negotiations progress.

Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, commented on the development, “Lightning Rock is a sacred site for Semá:th, and this purchase is an important step in ensuring its protection. This purchase sets a strong foundation for the ongoing relationship between Semá:th, the province, and the City of Abbotsford and ensures we can move forward together in a positive direction.”

The Semá:th people have been living in Abbotsford, BC for many millennia. They are a part of the larger Stό:lō Nation and were known as the fierce wolf people. Their history goes back to well over 10,000 years, and their people’s traditional way of life was associated with the Semá:th Lake and waterways which were an essential part of their community. Today, there are approximately four hundred people in Semá:th, and their community continues to grow.