A ceremony featuring Lekwungen and Esquimalt Nation dancers unveiled the expanded Songhees Park in Victoria on July 25. (Courtesy of the City of Victoria)

A ceremony featuring Lekwungen and Esquimalt Nation dancers unveiled the expanded Songhees Park in Victoria on July 25. (Courtesy of the City of Victoria)

Newly expanded Songhees Park celebrates Lekwungen culture

Art, nature, accessible pathways, seating, gathering space included in park project

People strolling along the Inner Harbour can now take in Lekwungen aspects and other improvements now that construction has wrapped up at the newly expanded Songhees Park.

The $3-million project includes new seating walls in the park that feature a Lekwungen canoe paddle design, which was created by Dylan Thomas, Victoria’s Indigenous artist-in-residence.

The project marks the first park co-developed by the city and the Songhees Nation. The collaboration will continue this year with additional artwork and an interactive educational program for park visitors.

Songhees Park is now 25 per cent larger after the 1.8-acre expansion replaced a roadway with hillside greenspace, accessible pathways, lighting, seating and gathering space.

Besides the expression of Lekwungen identity and culture, the Songhees Nation identified the importance of environmental revitalization and stewardship as a priority for the project. Along with the greenspace – which hosts Garry Oak meadow and bluff gardens – the park also has 55 new trees and 55 local plant species that will support pollinators and wildlife.

The work also includes a new timber viewing platform to take in Inner Harbour views.

The new park area is located at what was the former Songhees village and reserve until 1911. Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam called the park project another step toward reconciliation in the city.

“Not only will the initiative provide a culturally safe and supportive sanctuary for the Lekwungen community, it will also raise awareness of our Nation’s identity by reclaiming our historically significant spaces,” he said in a news release. “This expansion will continue to serve our community and provide a safe environment in which our people are valued, respected and cared for.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the city appreciated the collaborative effort and the design looks to advance reconciliation and a shared future.

“This spectacular waterfront park increases the visibility of Lekwungen identity and honours the homelands of the Lekwungen people.”

READ: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation regional event in works for Victoria


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