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Trail renaming honours Tshimshian couple

Speakers and participants reflected on the lives and contributions of a Tsimshian couple during a May 31 event to mark the completion of a multi-use pathway from downtown Terrace to the Kalum River Bridge.
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Sharon Bryant, wearing a traditional hat and who provided the prayer at the May 31 renaming of the Grand Trunk Pathway to the Xpilaxha - Charles and Emma Nelson Trail, stands with others at the sign. (Staff photo)

Speakers and participants reflected on the lives and contributions of a Tsimshian couple during a May 31 event to mark the completion of a multi-use pathway from downtown Terrace to the Kalum River Bridge.

The event also marked the renaming of the pathway from the Grand Trunk Pathway to Xpilaxha - Charles and Emma Nelson Trail.

The Nelsons from Kitsumkalum were a prominent couple in the area in the early 20th century who maintained a store at Kitsumkalum and assisted Europeans and others began arriving in the area. Xpilaxha was Charles Nelson’s traditional name, roughly translating into English as halfway to heaven.

One speaker, Katy Nelson, even commented that it was Charles Nelson who loaned George Little, who staked out the first lots that eventually became Terrace, the money to start a sawmill.

“It took 109 years, but history has come full circle with the Kitsumkalum purchase of the [Skeena] sawmill,” she said of the successful bid last month to take over Skeena Sawmills after it was placed in receivership.

“Today we hope reconciliation initiatives like this trail continue to honour our past while looking toward the future, embodying a spirit of collaboration and understanding this trail will provide, a peaceful escape for families, a strong place to recharge and reflect on al our contributions and advance reconciliation,” Nelson added.

She noted that the descendants of Charles and Emma Nelson now number in the hundreds.

Terrace mayor Sean Bujtas reminded the audience of the reasoning behind the new name, recounting that Charles Nelson was severely injured one winter’s night when he and his sled were thrown from the Grand Trunk tracks between Terrace and Kitsumkalum by a railway snowplow.

In many ways, Bujtas said, the route for pedestrians and others along Hwy16 from Terrace to Kitsumkalum remained dangerous and unwelcoming until the full completion of the pathway.

“We are beginning to change the historical narrative of Terrace. We are beginning the long, ongoing process of recognizing the people who have been here since time immemorial. In doing this, you make steps toward reconciliation,” he said.

Event host Gerald Wesley said the pathway continues a special relationship between Terrace and Kitsumkalum, one that includes providing fire protection.

He and Bujtas emphasized the role that Kitsumkalum chief councillor Don Roberts, who was unable to attend the event, played in discussions leading to the renaming of the pathway.

First conceived during the millennium year of 2000, the pathway became popularly know as the millennium trail.

It was built in sections as financing permitted with the final section of approximately one mile from the Frank St. and Hwy16 intersection to the Kalum River Bridge the product of several senior government grants amounting to $1.4 million, including lighting.

A series of amenities involving benches, landscaping, litter barrels and marking where it crosses over driveways will be installed this year at an additional cost of approximately $100,000. Part of that cost is now evident in a sign highlighting the pathway’s new name.

 



About the Author: Rod Link

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