James Douglas was part black, married to an aboriginal woman, he spoke the Chinook Jargon trade language and had already successfully opposed the legislature in Victoria which had wanted to remove the local Songhees reserve. He was appointed first Governor of British Columbia and he and Colonial Secretary Lytton established the Colony on two key principles:
- First Nations communities would remain permanently in place permanently. This was in opposition to what had happened just south of the 49th parallel where people were moved to distant reservations.
- Native people could preempt land privately off of the reserves but this land would also be available to new immigrants.
Jay Powell is the last remaining speaker of Chinook Wawa in British Columbia who learned it from native elders. He is inspiring other British Columbians to revive this important language as a reminder of our past and in inspiration for our future.
In this video, one of Jay's students, Sam Sullivan, interviews him about the language.