If you don’t know — ask.
Simple advice. And it can go a long way.
A perfect example of that is the debate between users of a trail near North Saanich’s Dean Park subdivision and the neighbouring Pauquachin First Nation.
At issue is the trail — and its path that takes it through University of Victoria (Dunsmuir Lodge) property and onto land used by the First Nation for cultural and spiritual practices that predate modern civilization.
Trail users fear losing access. The Pauquachin are trying to preserve sacred land and not allow people to exploit their practices.
And so, when they heard about the chance that the land would be made private should a deal go through between UVic and the Pauquachin, people began to raise a stink.
Yet few people, if any, reached out to the neighbouring First Nation to ask them what their actual plans were. Chief Rebecca Harris says a simple, respectful act such as that would have kept what has been a positive negotiation process, well, positive.
Instead, she says their community has faced additional accusations and rumours that are generally unfounded — and which could have been prevented had anyone bothered to ask them.
It’s a basic concept. If you don’t know something, you ask those who do, before going off half-cocked, saying or doing things that can only sour relationships.
In the case of this land negotiation, there are aspects of it that are not public. That’s normal in just about any land purchase deal. The terms are typically revealed afterwards.
Yet, if people are worried about having something dumped into their laps without warning, there are opportunities to learn more.
What you do with the answers after that, is up to you.