The Lekwungen Traditional Dancers usher in the new Oak Bay council ahead of its inaugural meeting on Nov. 7. (

The Lekwungen Traditional Dancers usher in the new Oak Bay council ahead of its inaugural meeting on Nov. 7. (

Oak Bay council starts term with traditional Lekwungen welcome

Mayor thanks former councillors Eric Wood Zelka and Tara Ney for years of service

Oak Bay council routinely acknowledges it meets on the traditional territory of the Coast and Straits Salish Peoples, specifically the Lekwungen known today as the Songhees and Esquimalt nations.

Building on that and other partnerships with those whose historic connections to the land continue today, the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers ushered in the new council ahead of the inaugural meeting Monday night.

Mayor Kevin Murdoch and Couns. Andrew Appleton, Hazel Braithwaite, Cairine Green, Esther Paterson, Carrie Smart and Lesley Watson were sworn in by Judge Karina Sacca at the Nov. 7 meeting.

Murdoch kicked off the meeting with a Lekwungen welcome then translated to English. “My honourable friends thank you for coming to Lekwungen land the land of the smoked herring.”

He referenced carvings by Tsartlip master carver Temoseng Charles Elliott on display at municipal hall and recreated as monuments out in the community. A partnership he would return to later in his comments after allowing each councillor time to speak as part of the inaugural address.

RELATED: Enjoy a self-guided tour of Oak Bay’s First Nations monuments

Murdoch recognized the work of the previous council to strengthen the financial, governance and operational foundations of the district, creating transparency and efficiency.

“It’s helped make Oak Bay an employer of choice in the region,” he said. Specifically, he noted the work of two leaving council members, and though unable to mention all of their work, he took note of several contributions by each.

He thanked Eric Wood Zhelka for his two terms, making special note of his time as liaison with Oak Bay Emergency Planning Program and representative on the regional water supply commission, helping that group complete its 30-year plan. He also thanked Tara Ney for four terms of service and noted her work on the Royal McPherson Society, Remembrance Day committee, ArtsAlive and other arts initiatives and the CRD inter-municipal steering committee.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay chooses two new faces for council

Murdoch looks forward to council tackling issues and opportunities, with dozens of partnerships, including with local First Nations with some work underway already such as the Spewhung (Turkey Head) lease, the Sitchanalth (Willows Beach) initiative and several naming and recognition frameworks.

“What we’ll have the opportunity to achieve this term is a new relational approach that ensures Oak Bay is a welcoming community for Indigenous Peoples. That the long cultural history of our First Nations is reflected throughout our places, words and deeds, and that we can work together to see a positive future for all of our respective communities.”

RELATED: Songhees, Oak Bay embark on shared knowledge project for popular beach

Murdoch also encouraged voters to remain engaged to help inform decisions of council.

“I would also invite people to work at remaking the links with neighbours and friends that make this community so special. After several years of very limited community events and pandemic-based social isolation, we all need to work at rebuilding these connections,” Murdoch said.

Find video of the meeting and hear from the council members at


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