The K’omoks First Nation welcomed the Tribal Canoe Journeys in 2017 at Goose Spit  |  George Le Masurier photo

CV Regional District adopts a statement of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

Feb 2, 2021 | Government, News

By George Le Masurier

The Comox Valley Regional District board has adopted a statement of reconciliation to guide its work with Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

The statement formally recognizes the regional district’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, as outlined in The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and several other key documents.

Electoral Area B Director and board Vice-Chair Arzeena Hamir said in the board’s announcement that reconciliation is “not just a statement or a gesture.” She said it is a commitment to take responsibility for the past and move forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to support the reclamation of their identity, culture and livelihood.

“While the words we have adopted are important, as a board we understand that history will judge us by our actions,” Hamir said. “We are at the beginning of a very long journey to heal the past. We must be humble and committed leaders that will help to pave the way towards a better future for our community.”

The CVRD announcement also acknowledged that it will be the actions they undertake to support the statement that will truly define its relationship with Indigenous Peoples moving forward.

K’omoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel said it has been her goal to build strong relationships with our local municipalities and work together on the notion of moving forward together. She said KFN and the CVRD have developed a lasting relationship to better understand each other and their common goals, “as well as where we differ, and how we can achieve Reconciliation.”

Rempel said reconciliation will be no easy task.

“Reconciliation is different for everyone, and has a million different meanings,” she said. “Reconciliation cannot be achieved through one simple act, but it does begin with one simple act.”

In September 2019, the CVRD named Indigenous Relations as one of four strategic drivers through which CVRD services will be delivered. To support Indigenous relations as a driver, the CVRD adopted a framework last year that guides core service delivery through an Indigenous Relations lens and promotes greater cultural awareness.

Here are a few of the regional district’s reconciliation activities undertaken in 2020, in addition to regular and ongoing discussions between the CVRD and Indigenous peoples on projects and day-to-day service delivery, such as water supply, sewage collection/treatment, recreation, transit and solid waste, several activities illustrate the progressive work to advance Indigenous interests.

Summer Recreation Program: The CVRD and the Wachiay Friendship Centre co-hosted Earthbound Kids, an all-day Indigenous cultural camp to enhance the community’s understanding of reconciliation by raising the awareness of Indigenous cultural identity. The CVRD was awarded a $10,000 grant through the Union of BC Municipalities’ Urban Communities Partnering for Reconciliation to fund the program.

CVRD and KFN Leadership Meetings: The CVRD Chair and Chief Administrative Officer along with key elected officials and project managers participated in monthly Kómoks First Nation (KFN) chief and council meetings. Eleven meetings between KFN and CVRD leadership were held in 2020, addressing more than 30 specific projects.

Community Benefits Agreement: In late 2020, the CVRD and KFN ratified a Community Benefits Agreement that commits both parties to work together collaboratively on a regional solution for sewer. The partnership recognizes the existing sewer line through Indian Reserve (IR1) was expropriated without adequate consultation and provides compensation for past and future impacts of sewer infrastructure within the reserve. The agreement will provide needed upgrades for Comox and Courtenay sewer infrastructure, while supporting the growth and economic development plans of the K’ómoks community.

South Sewer Extension Project: An extension of sewer service into Royston and Union Bay that will service KFN development lands is in the early stages of assessment. The CVRD is currently undertaking further assessment and technical evaluation including further review of potential costs and is in discussion with the K’ómoks First Nation and Union Bay Estates.

Seal Bay Signage Project: Recognizing that Seal Bay Park lies within K’ómoks First Nation traditional territory the CVRD and KFN worked in partnership to plan signage improvements and enhance the overall park visitor experience while promoting understanding of the cultural heritage and values within the park. Seal Bay Park (referred to as ‘Xwee Xwhya Luq’ by KFN) contains cultural and natural values that are important to the KFN.

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