At its first meeting of 2021, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) Board of Directors have adopted a statement of reconciliation that will continue to guide the CVRD’s work with Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.
The statement formally recognizes the CVRD’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 including The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and Sec. 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act. However, the CVRD also clearly acknowledges that it will be the actions undertaken to support this statement which will truly define its relationship with Indigenous Peoples moving forward.
“hɛhɛwčɩs~ Moving Forward (in our Ayajuthem language). Since my initial election to office in 2017, it has been my goal and indeed that of K’ómoks First Nation to build strong relationships with our local municipalities and work together on the notion of moving forward together. Through many years of hard work and commitment by CVRD leadership and staff along with KFN leadership and staff, we have developed lasting relationships to better understand each other and our common goals, as well as where we differ, and how we can achieve Reconciliation. This is no easy task, as Reconciliation is different for everyone, and has a million different meanings. Reconciliation cannot be achieved through one simple act, but it does begin with one simple act. Reconciliation takes commitment on both sides, and action on both sides. We at K’ómoks are proud of the relationship built with the CVRD and their daily commitment to working with KFN to take actions that reflect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. By taking this one important step, the CVRD join the City of Courtenay in leading the way within municipalities nation-wide on adopting the UNDRIP and committing to working with the territorial Rights and Title holders on acknowledging Indigenous Rights within our unceded territory. We look forward to continuing to work with and support the CVRD in their efforts toward Reconciliation,” said K’ómoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel.
“Reconciliation is not just a statement or a gesture. 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,” explained CVRD Vice-Chair, Arzeena Hamir. “While the words we have adopted are important, as a board we understand that history will judge us by our actions. 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.”
In September 2019, the CVRD 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 in January 2020 that will guide core service delivery with an Indigenous Relations lens and promote greater cultural awareness. You can read more about the actions that are planned or have already been undertaken at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/indigenousrelations.
The CVRD will also lobby the Federal Government to follow through with its commitment to adopt Bill C-15, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP), which affirms the declaration’s application in Canadian law. The BC government passed legislation in November 2019 to implement UNDRIP and set out a process that will align BC’s laws with the declaration.
To read the CVRD’s Statement of Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, please refer to the backgrounder below or visit: www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/indigenousrelations.
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Comox Valley Regional District Statement of Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
The work of Reconciliation falls to all segments of Canadian society. The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) is committed to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Supporting Indigenous relations is a CVRD Board strategic driver. It is understood that a commitment alone is not enough and that action is needed to show that the CVRD is taking measurable steps towards a better relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
This Statement of Reconciliation can guide decision making for the organization for many years to come. It is understood that Reconciliation is a long term goal with no defined end point. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is the reference framework for the CVRD’s commitment to Reconciliation, which builds from the CVRD’s Indigenous Relations Framework and aims to address activities within the scope of the CVRD’s authority. This statement is a work in progress, which acknowledges that mistakes will be made and provides for adjustments to accommodate emergent practices.
The CVRD’s boundaries span the Traditional Territories of many First Nations, whose ancestors have been taking care of the land since time immemorial. The CVRD believes that a positive working relationship with First Nations is good for the whole region. For the CVRD to have a positive relationship with First Nations, we need to acknowledge, respect and work with their Indigenous laws, customs and systems of governance. The CVRD is part of a national movement towards Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples, informed by:
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action
- The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Sec. 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act.
- The Douglas Treaties and the BC Modern Treaty process
- The BC Government’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
- The Federal Government’s Bill C-15, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (not yet adopted)
The CVRD’s path to Reconciliation focuses on four recurring themes:
- Self-Determination - The CVRD acknowledges the fundamental right of self-determination to Indigenous Peoples. In the spirit and intent of inclusivity, the CVRD is committed to working with First Nations through the governance systems they choose. When First Nations wish to participate in our decision-making process, then we will support them. The CVRD will look to First Nations for leadership in understanding how to create new decision-making systems together on their Traditional Territories.
- Shared Prosperity - The CVRD recognizes the gap in wealth between First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples The CVRD will respect its interest in fiscal responsibility and believes that improving the lives of the most vulnerable citizens creates a stronger and more resilient region for everyone. The CVRD will seek partnerships, share information and deliver fair and equitable services in working with First Nations on achieving their economic goals.
- Protecting Cultural Heritage - The CVRD recognizes that since the arrival of settlers, indigenous cultural heritage sites have been damaged and destroyed through development, and ancestral burial places and artifacts have been looted and sold. The CVRD will work with First Nations to respect, learn from and appropriately manage indigenous cultural heritage in the Comox Valley.
- Relationship with the Land and Water - The CVRD recognizes the integral relationship First Nations have with the land and water. The CVRD will work with First Nations on taking care of the land and water while providing space for cultural and ceremonial use, food and medicine harvesting, traditional management practices and reclaiming Indigenous place names.