The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) came together with the K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) and local Elected Officials earlier this month, 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.
“Developing cooperative and collaborative relationships with our local municipalities as well as improved communications amongst each other is a vision KFN has had for several years, said Hegus Nicole Rempel. “It is through events such as the Community to Community Forum hosted by the CVRD that we begin to understand each other and our governance structures better. It is an opportunity to explore areas of mutual interest, the challenges we face and how we can strengthen relationships and continue our work in reconciliation.”
Merle Alexander, a practitioner of Indigenous Resource Law and most recently part of the co-development team for the Declaration Act, also led a presentation and discussion on empowering First Nations through Title and Rights.
“These meetings are absolutely instrumental in bringing us together as community leaders,” said Jesse Ketler, Chair of the Comox Valley Regional District. “The more we come together to discuss these very important and relevant issues, the more we will work together as partners for positive change. I was honoured to hear these presentations and participate in what I hope will be the beginning of many conversations as we move down this long path of reconciliation together.”
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. This is one of three community meetings hosted by the CVRD in partnership with KFN since 2019. These gatherings are intended to strengthen relationships and encourage collaboration between the KFN, Local Government Elected Officials and senior staff. More information about this meeting and other CVRD and KFN initiatives can be found at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/kfn.
The CVRD has named Indigenous Relations as one of four strategic drivers through which CVRD services are being delivered. In September 2019 it adopted a framework to deliver core services with an Indigenous Relations lens and promote greater cultural awareness. More information on these initiatives to develop policy, strengthen relationships and support learning is available at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/indigenousrelations
K’ómoks First Nation
Chair, Comox Valley Regional District
To book an interview: Christianne Wile at 250-334-6000