Chief Marilyn Gabriel and her son Michael Kelly Gabriel of the Kwantlen First Nation welcomed the seniors with speeches and song. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Langley pioneers feted for Douglas Day

The annual banquet honoured longtime residents on the birthday of B.C.

Two of the great-great-granddaughters of the man who brought B.C. into existence attended a Douglas Day banquet in Langley Sunday.

Cynthia Fleming and Gloria Bushby are sisters and the descendents of Sir James Douglas, first governor of the colony of British Columbia, through his daughter Agnes Bushby.

Douglas Day, on Nov. 19, is the annual celebration of the proclamation of British Columbia as a colony of Great Britain.

Langley Township and City celebrate with a pioneer’s banquet, honouring senior citizens who have contributed and lived in the community for decades.

“It makes you sort of proud,” said Fleming of her connection of James Douglas.

Bushby was inspired by the way her ancestor stuck with his wife Amelia. Her father had been a trader and her mother was Cree.

“She was shunned when they went to Victoria,” Bushby said of the white settler society there at the time.

Fleming, from Surrey, and Bushby, from Ladner, had some family heirlooms and stories passed down about their famous ancestor. Their family Bible and other items have been donated to museums.

Marilyn Gabriel, chief of the Kwantlen First Nation, welcomed the seniors to the banquet and noted that her own mother was there, turning 81 on Sunday.

“It’s not Freedom 55, it’s Freedom 95,” Gabriel joked, saying that the community’s elders need to help share their knowledge with the next generations.

“You’ved paved this path four our community, and you’ll do that until it’s time to leave here,” she said.

Mayor Jack Froese of Langley Township emphasized the theme of transportation, and paid the bagpiper who led in dignitaries with a customary shot of whisky. Mayor Ted Schaffer of Langley City led the toast to the queen.

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