Environment Minister Bestows Statue Funds

By Monique Tamminga, Langley Times - July 26, 2008

Canada's Environment Minister John Baird made his first visit to Langley on Thursday to announce $200,000 in funding for the installation of public art at the Fort Langley National Historic Site that will commemorate B.C.'s 150th birthday.

Baird, alongside his parliamentary secretary, Langley MP Mark Warawa, and Township Mayor Kurt Alberts and acting City mayor Jack Arnold, were drummed inside the Fort walls by Lekeyten of the Kwantlen First Nation.

On either side of the procession were two bodyguards for Baird, with a Langley RCMP officer in behind. It likely is the first time such security has been seen inside the Fort for decades.

"For many years Mark has gone on about what a beautiful riding he has," said Baird, who spoke to the crowd from the porch of the Big House. "This truly is one of the most quaint and beautiful spots in Canada." Baird said the new monument will reflect the watershed moments in the development of Langley, the birthplace of B.C.

"There will be five statues and a pathway that will pay tribute to the iconic people and elements of Fort Langley, recognizing the First Nations, women, the fur trade and salmon here," said Baird. "This monument will add another dimension to the the narrative of the Fort."

Warawa said he shared ideas with Baird about the Fort and its important chapter of history for B.C. "Imagine a Canada ending at the Rocky Mountains," said Warawa, about the Hudson's Bay Company establishing territory further west from the Americans and the creation of the Crown colony in 1858. "I'm proud to be part of a country that spreads from sea to sea."

The Fort's Mike Starr said a call for artists went out Friday with the hope that at least 30 artists will make a bid. The finalist will be announced Nov. 19.

© The Langley Times