Indigenous Relations Framework

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 in September 2019 to deliver core services with an Indigenous Relations lens and promote greater cultural awareness.

Some primary objectives of this framework include enhancing the knowledge and understanding of Indigenous culture and history, including the modern day legacy of colonial history; building capacity of all elected officials and staff to be engaged in collaborative work with Indigenous communities and people; and responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Read the Framework

Advancing Reconcilation

The Comox Valley Regional District is committed to building its relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and advancing reconciliation.  At its first meeting of 2021, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) Board of Directors adopted a statement of reconciliation that will continue to guide the CVRD’s work with Indigenous 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

Read the Statement 

To assist in the development of meaningful mid and long term strategies and actions that support the CVRD's Framework and advance Reconciliation, the CVRD undertook an Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Assessment in late 2021. This work summarized the CVRD's current policy and practices related to advancing reconciliation and identified a set of strategies and actions that could potentially be undertaken in the mid to long term. The review was based on desktop research to review actions and practices across Canada and abroad, as well as drawing on the experience of the report's authors, Dillon Consulting Limited, in working with Indigenous communities and various levels of governments.

Read the Reconcilation and Assesement Report

What Happens Next?

Implementing the Indigenous Relations framework and the recommendations contained in the Reconciliation Assessment Report will be an ongoing effort that will evolve and respond to current events and future goals. Adequate resources must be considered for effective implementation, and will be addressed as programs are considered. Each year, staff will report on specific activities undertaken and planned to support the Framework. This includes enhancing cultural awareness for the CVRD as well as continued efforts to meet with K’ómoks First Nation on a regular basis to advance various projects. Funding to accomplish these goals will come from a combination of sources including grants and the general government administration service. Additional resources may be required in subsequent years as the work plan evolves and mid to long-term strategies are implemented.

2020 Progress Report

The following describes various activities undertaken in 2020 to support advancing reconciliation. 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, on July 13-17, 2020. The camp sought to enhance the community’s understanding of reconciliation by raising the awareness of Indigenous cultural identity. Through activities such as talking circles and storytelling, camp participants learned about ancestral teachings and tradition and the important connection to the land. 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 to review CVRD operational procedures and supporting documentation as projects and initiated and advanced. Of note, 11 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. This project supports progress towards provincial reconciliation and the principles of the United Nations declaration. The CVRD is currently:

  • Undertaking further assessment and technical evaluation including further review of potential costs.
  • In discussion with the K’ómoks First Nation and Union Bay Estates.
  • Pursuing grant opportunities.

While further outreach was proposed for the fall of 2020, that timing has been revised as the CVRD awaits further information about grant opportunities. It is expected the next update will be available in early 2021. The work supporting the south sewer extension is building upon ongoing work between the CVRD and KFN on the liquid waste management planning process, the sewer conveyance lines and the partnerships formed through the water treatment plant construction project.

Referrals Management Program: The CVRD, KFN and other local First Nations utilize a jointly agreed upon referrals management program to facilitate dialogue on land use planning applications. The program has been in place since 2012.

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. Indigenous people traditionally visited the Seal Bay area for resource harvesting and to camp when traveling through the area by canoe. The new signage reflects a variety of natural park elements, animals and cultural references with emphasis on the traditional ayajuthem language. Ayajuthem is a Coast Salish language shared between the peoples of K’ómoks, Tla'amin, Homalco and Klahoose.

CVRD Liaison to K’ómoks First Nation Treaty Negotiation Process: The Board appointed Director Hillian to be the liaison between the CVRD and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for the K’ómoks First Nation treaty negotiation process. This includes regular attendance and participating in treaty discussions where various perspectives are shared and understanding is sought.

Community to Community Forum: The CVRD participated in a C2C forum in November hosted by KFN and included topics related to reconciliation, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the KFN’s cultural heritage policy.

Meaningful Engagement Handbook: The CVRD worked with KFN to develop a handbook as a resource to assist CVRD staff in building a successful engagement experience with the KFN. The handbook supports the improvement of CVRD’s internal practices and provides staff with the tools needed to work with KFN, in accordance with the Nation’s own procedures and decision making authority. It is intended to build on the Protocol Agreement signed in 2010 and the CVRD is very much appreciative of the guidance provided by Chief and Council in drafting this document.

2021 Progress Report

The following describes progress towards reconcilation and the goals set forth in early 2021 under the CVRD's Indigenous Relations Framework.

  • A Statement of Reconciliation was adopted to guide the CVRD’s work with Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. Encouragement of Federal Government to Follow-through of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) Commitments
  • Indigenous awareness training was offered in February, April and May 2021 to elected officials and CVRD staff members to provide an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the continued impacts of a range of Indigenous issues and learn how Canada’s colonial history has impacted the lives of Indigenous Peoples.
  • CVRD planning is active with the Planning Institute of BC (PIBC) Planning Practice and Reconciliation Committee, which is working to develop and recommend relevant and achievable strategies and actions for PIBC to respond to outcomes from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and UNDRIP. The Committee has spent the last year engaging with First Nations and First Nation groups throughout BC and the Yukon.
  • The Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Assessment Report was developed over the fall of 2021, building from existing documents and work at the CVRD and setting the path forward for further reconciliation and relationship building. The report includes three foundational strategies and numerous suggested actions and is further considered in the 2022 planned activities.
  • K’ómoks First Nation approved a Cultural Heritage Policy in late 2020 and CVRD staff have considered means for implementing the policy for CVRD services and projects. CVRD pursued the policy for several projects in 2021 including the sewer conveyance project. The KFN policy reconciles Aboriginal rights and title to the territory with newcomers’ desire to live in and modify the territory.
  • Community to Community Forums were held in March and November 2021 discussing how local governments can move towards implementing the UN Declaration and also exploring climate resiliency and poverty reduction.
  • The K’ómoks First Nation and the Comox Valley Sewage Commission announced the ratification of a Community Benefit Agreement that commits both parties to work together collaboratively on a regional solution for sewer.
  • The CVRD continued to partner with K’ómoks First Nation to lobby the province to support the Sewer Extension South Project which will provide a regional solution for sewer and address the environmental risk to shellfish from poorly functioning septic systems.
  • The CVRD 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.
  • CVRD recreation department partnered with the Wachiay Friendship Centre and hosted a culture day camp for youth in the Comox Valley. The focus of the camp was incorporating cultural elements and language into the camp programming. Participants gained greater cultural awareness and a sense of identity and connection to land through activities such as storytelling, arts and crafts, walking, hiking, talking circles and exploring Indigenous world views and language. Activities included a swim at the pool or river each day.
  • Traditional art by K’ómoks First Nation artists to depict the indigenous history and connection to water was installed at the water treatment plant. Original pieces include a canoe, bench and boardroom doors with a welcome pole in development.
  • Information kiosks with panels dedicated to explaining how water connects us and the history of water and the Pentlatch peoples, including the Origin Story and the Legend of Queneesh, were installed at the trailhead next to the water treatment plant.
  • Through the CVRD’s Homelessness Supports Service, $70,000 in funding was provided to the Wachiay Friendship Centre in support of an indigenous affordable housing project.
  • The park located at the headwaters of Morrison Creek, which protects 22 hectares of aquatic and riparian habitat, was been formally named qax mot Conservation Area.
  • The CVRD continued monthly meetings with K’ómoks First Nation Chief and Council through 2021. A total of 15 meetings were held with discussions on over 28 projects.
  • A staff handbook on how to meaningfully engage with K’ómoks First Nation was finalized with Chief and Council endorsement. The handbook was launched in a training session featuring presentations and Q&As with Hegus Rempel and councillors as well as K’ómoks First Nation administration staff.
  • An information portal including the staff handbook and other learning resources was launched for CVRD staff and will continue to act as a repository for templates, reports and reference materials as well as education resources.
2022 Workplan

Activities Internal to CVRD

  • Education for CVRD Elected Officials and staff is paramount to building a knowledge base on First Nation history, rights and culture. A combination of virtual and in-person events will be sought, with a focus on experiential learning. Additionally, education will be enhanced through consolidated resources, regular dialogue opportunities with Indigenous leaders and a more formalized training plan for new and existing staff. 
  • A dedicated resource to build capacity at the CVRD to “bridge Indigenous policies, programs and relations across departments; explore new opportunities to partner with Indigenous communities and groups; identify where new relationship building efforts may be required; and to champion the implementation of strategies and actions to advance reconciliation.” A contracted resource will be sought in 2022 with potential consideration for a dedicated staff position or other arrangement in future years. This resource will be instrumental in most of the planned activities for 2022 including the initiation and coordination of the Advisory Group on Reconciliation. 
  • Continued application of the KFN Cultural Heritage Policy for CVRD projects and services. This will include considerations for enabling the development community to apply the policy, respecting KFN cultural sites. -
  • Continued application of the KFN Cultural Heritage Policy for CVRD projects and services. This will include considerations for enabling the development community to apply the policy, respecting KFN cultural sites.
  • Review existing CVRD plans, policies and communications materials to remove references to KFN as stakeholders and revise to acknowledge their position as rights holders. Action 6 in the Assessment Report.
  • Reach out to KFN and local Indigenous Groups (e.g., the Wachiay Friendship Centre, Comox Valley MIKI’SIW Métis Association) about establishing an Indigenous Youth Internship Program to create employment and mentorship opportunities for Indigenous People in the Comox Valley. CVRD Human Resources intends to begin development of a strategy for an internship program in 2022. 
  • Research and determination of the First Nations with which the CVRD will engage on projects and services. The existing relationship with KFN is enjoyed and appreciated by the CVRD and efforts are made to strengthen that relationship in 2022. Additional work is needed to identify other First Nations that may have territorial interests inside the CVRD boundaries. Examples include the Qualicum First Nation and Tla’amin First Nation.

Activities External to CVRD and in partnership

  • Establishing the Advisory Group on Reconciliation will be the primary focus for the CVRD in 2022. Work will include consulting with KFN, MIKI’SIW Metis Association, Wachiay and municipal partners on forming an Advisory Group on Reconciliation with the goal of building relationships between Indigenous Peoples and local governments in order to move forward together on initiatives that are meaningful and will support lasting change. Consideration will be given to broad representation, CVRD Board involvement, regular reporting and a meeting stipend for participants. This group is not intended to be a working group because reconciliation is the responsibility of settlers and not the Indigenous Community. At the same time, it is important a variety of perspectives and interests are shared amongst settlers and the Indigenous Community to build bridges. The group will be supported by CVRD resources. Foundational strategy in the Assessment Report.
  • The CVRD intends to continue its regular leadership meetings with KFN, in order to continue building the relationship, sharing information, gaining perspective and finding community solutions. A minimum of ten meetings per year are expected where major projects and initiatives are presented for specific input from KFN. - Recreation Services continues to work together with the Wachiay Friendship Centre on partnership programming for Indigenous youth and families. Current partnerships include Friday youth hockey and children/youth cultural summer camps.
  • Develop a reconciliation toolkit built upon from existing materials, reviewed with the Advisory Group and shared publicly. The toolkit can provide information on how community members can support reconciliation in their daily lives through personal actions and commitments – and can regularly be added to as opportunities arise.