The CVRD acknowledges that it is on the traditional unceded territory of the K’ómoks First Nation, an important partner in water management and conservation in the beautiful Comox Valley.
The Comox Valley Regional District is committed to building its relationship with Indigenous peoples and advancing reconciliation. The CVRD has named Indigenous Relations as one of four strategic drivers, through which CVRD services are being delivered. To support Indigenous Relations as a driver, the CVRD adopted a framework to deliver core services with an Indigenous Relations lens and promote greater cultural awareness.
Kamloops Residential School Tragedy
The Comox Valley Regional District issued a statement on May 31, 2021 to pay its respects to the memory of 215 innocent children whose remains were discovered at a former Kamloops residential school. "Thank you to K'ómoks First Nation for working in partnership and teaching our community with honesty, openness and compassion. Our thoughts and prayers are with your community,” said CVRD Chair, Jesse Ketler. “As a community and as a nation we must honour the lives of these innocent children and never forget their stories.” Click here to read the statement.
Partnering on Sewer Solutions
On February 18, 2021, the K’ómoks First Nation and the CVRD's Sewage Commission announced the ratification of a Community Benefits Agreement that commits both parties to work together collaboratively on a regional solution for sewer. 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. Read more about this historic agreement that will ensure a regional approach to sewer services to protect local beaches, waters and BC’s largest shellfish industry in Bayne’s Sound.
Recognizing Traditional Language and Culture
On June 17, 2020 the CVRD and the K’ómoks First Nation unveiled new interpretative signs at Xwee Xwhya Luq, which is the traditional name for Seal Bay Nature Park. This area is very culturally significant to the KFN as generations of indigenous peoples visited the Seal Bay area for resource harvesting and to camp when traveling through the area by canoe.
Left to right: KFN Councillors Katherine Frank and Richard Hardy, CVRD Chair Jesse Ketler and Chief Nicole Rempel.
The signage includes new trail names which reflect a variety of natural park elements, animals and cultural references with an emphasis on the traditional Ayajuthem language. Ayajuthem is a Coast Salish language shared between the peoples of K’ómoks, Tla'Amin, Homalco and Klahoose First Nations. To help visitors learn and pronounce the Coast Salish names, signs also feature phonetic pronunciations. For more information please visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/sealbaysignage
Moving Forward Together
Building on the K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) Protocol Agreement, signed in 2010, the CVRD remains committed to respectful and genuine engagement with our valued community partner.
The Significance of Water
The CVRD has come to understand that the waters flowing through the valley hold a deep cultural significance to KFN’s history and community. This water also plays an important role in the future of the community and its aspirations for growth and independence. Acknowledging this history, committing to working together as partners and acknowledging the strength of diversity in our community, are all important steps of reconciliation. These beliefs have and will continue to inform the CVRD’s organizational culture.
In the spirit of partnership, the CVRD was pleased and honoured to sign a Mutual Benefit Agreement on water on September 28, 2018. This agreement confirmed cooperation and collaboration between the CVRD and KFN in the management of water resources in the region. This agreement includes plans to extend water services in the future to K’ómoks lands south of Royston and greater participation by KFN in the management of regional water resources. By signing this agreement, KFN stated its support of the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project and the CVRD’s water license application, which assisted greatly in gaining provincial and federal support of the project.
Photo caption - From left: Russell Dyson (CVRD), Bob Wells (CVRD), Bruce Jolliffe (CVRD), Chief Nicole Rempel (KFN), Melinda Knox (KFN Economic Development Corp.), Tina McLean (KFN)
Implementation of the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
In March 2021, the CVRD came together with the KFN and local Elected Officials to discuss how Local Governments can move forward to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (The UN Declaration). A presentation and discussion led by the B.C. Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, provided an overview of the provincial effort to implement the UN Declaration. The provincial legislation guiding this work – the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act – received Royal Assent in November 2019 and elected officials in the Comox Valley have been eager to discuss how these opportunities to implement the UN Declaration can be applied at the local level. Merle Alexander, a practitioner of Indigenous Resource Law and most recently part of the co-development team for the Declaration Act, led a presentation and discussion on empowering First Nations through Title and Rights. The meeting was hosted by the CVRD in partnership with the KFN and included Elected Officials and staff representatives from the Town of Comox, City of Courtenay, Village of Cumberland, Village of Sayward, School District 71, and Islands Trust. For more information please read the press release.
In June 2019, the KFN and CVRD shared a day of learning about the history and culture of indigenous peoples in the Comox Valley. The Community to Community initiative was part of a continued effort to strengthen the working relationship between the two organizations.
KFN Councillors and staff, along with CVRD Directors and staff, toured several archaeologically significant sites in the Pentlatch area, which is now known as the Comox Valley. Stops included Brooklyn Creek in Mack Laing Park, the site of one of the largest known shell middens in the area. Rotary Park was also visited to view the remains of the largest fish trap discovered in North America.
Photo caption: KFN Chief and Council, CVRD directors and staff joined local Archaeologist Jesse Morin to learn about the fish traps that were used to feed the indigenous families who lived along the Comox Estuary and the banks of the Puntledge River.
For more information please read the press release.
A Culture of Partnership
In February 2019, CVRD elected officials and senior staff joined KFN in a Community to Community Forum to share knowledge, exchange information about governance structures and continue strengthening and building relationships. This forum represents one of the ways the CVRD and KFN are working together to ensure the continuation of a cooperative and collaborative government-to-government relationship that supports partnerships now and in the future
To learn more about the K'ómoks First Nation, please visit: www.komoks.ca
For more information about our shared initiatives, please click on the drop-down menus below.