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.
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.
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.
Reconciliation Advisory Table
A key recommendation from the Reconciliation Assessment Report was the establishment of an advisory committee that will help to guide local governments to undertake initiatives that are appropriate and meaningful to the Indigenous community. In 2022, the CVRD, City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland, K’ómoks First Nation and several community Indigenous groups formed an Advisory Table on Reconciliation. This group is laying the foundation for its work and has issued a call for submissions for an Indigenous youth graphic artist to help share its story. Information and updates will be provided by the Advisory Table as it advances its work in support of community healing.
Each year, staff will report on specific activities undertaken and planned to support Indigenous Relations. 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.
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.
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.
The following describes progress towards reconciliation and the goals set forth in early 2022 under the CVRD's Indigenous Relations Framework.
Reconciliation Advisory Group
In June 2022 the CVRD directed staff to proceed with outreach to form an Advisory Group on Reconciliation under the guidance of facilitators Nick Chowdhury and Sonora Morin of Wi’la’mola Consulting. Outreach began with the K’ómoks First Nation (K’ómoks) as the Nation with core territory in the Comox Valley, and then included those First Nations with overlapping territory and the MIKI’SIW Métis Association. Facilitators also engaged with the Indigenous Groups supporting residents of the Comox Valley.
The first meeting of the Advisory Group was held on December 14, 2022 with 12 representatives from K’omoks, MIKI’SIW Metis Association, Upper Island Women of Native Ancestry, Indigenous Women's Sharing Society and the CVRD, City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and Village of Cumberland in attendance.
Cultural Awareness Committee
Nine staff members with experience working on Indigenous engagement, either at the CVRD or in a previous role, participated in quarterly meetings with the goal of discussing and advancing initiatives within each branch that will help to move the CVRD along the path of reconciliation. This is an opportunity to discuss the progress of key projects identified in the CVRD’s Indigenous Relations work plan and share knowledge and experiences that can help improve outcomes. These staff members act as ambassadors within their respective branches and play an important role in building the CVRD’s internal culture of respect.
Window Art Installation
A window art display by K’ómoks artist Jessie Everson was added to the exterior of the CVRD’s office on Harmston Avenue. This work was commissioned as part of a call for artists issued by K’ómoks in partnership with the CVRD to create artwork to share with the community in recognition of residential school survivors. The designs represent all the K’ómoks tribes of the Pentlatch, E’iksan, Sahtloot and Sasitła.
Six employee training sessions were offered in September/October 2022, with 139 staff participating and supported by five K’ómoks Elders. The Steps to Reconciliation – Becoming an Effective Ally Workshop, provided a confidential and safe space to learn about residential schools and the devastating effects of colonization of Indigenous people in Canada.
New Staff Orientation
In addition to all new hires being required to participate in the Steps to Reconciliation - Becoming an Effective Ally Workshop, a staff orientation package has been developed which includes a module on Indigenous Relations at the CVRD and covers: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, CVRD workplace culture expectations, Indigenous Relations policies, Staff Handbook for engaging with K’ómoks First Nation and staff resources.
Public Education and Sharing of Resources
The CVRD coordinated and issued a joint statement with the Mayors of Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland to acknowledge both Indigenous Peoples Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The statements were distributed to local news outlets and via social media to the community. An internal communication plan was also implemented,.
Indigenous Relations Employee Information Portal
The CVRD continues to build a repository of information through its Indigenous Relations Information Portal, which is located on the staff intranet. This site hosts relevant news and updates relating to reconciliation in the Comox Valley and across BC and Canada. The portal is used to share the CVRD’s progress in implementing its Indigenous Relations program and provides a list of resources both for personal education and to assist employees in their work. It is intended as a collaborative tool with staff encouraged to provide ideas and resources to contribute to the page.
On September 27, the Comox Valley Emergency Program, administered by the CVRD, hosted volunteers, First Nations and local government representatives in a regional earthquake exercise. Representatives of K’ómoks Chief and Council and staff members participated in the Policy Group, Information Officer and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) training as pathways for delivering equitable emergency management in the Comox Valley. K’ómoks staff were full participants in the full-scale Emergency Operations Centre component of Fracture on 5th Exercise, which directly contributed to the expansion of regional EOC positions to include First Nation Liaison Officer and the additional of a Cultural Branch within the Operations function.
Training for Staff and Volunteers
The CVRD board passed a resolution to support the Strathcona Regional District’s Building Bridges and Salvaging Sacredness regional grant application, which is a partnership between two regional districts, four municipalities and five First Nations. The grant supports Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility Training for Comox Valley Emergency Program staff, partners, and volunteers, stakeholders as well as CVRD department staff that either work with CVEP or have a role to play in the Emergency Operation Centre, Emergency Radio Communications, and Emergency Support Services.
Hosting with Humility Project
Ongoing collaborative initiatives that empower and support Comox Valley Emergency Program partners to advance plan and prepare the Comox Valley region to act as a host community to neighbouring Nations and communities who may become displaced by hazards or disaster.
Reciprocal participation and support by both Comox Valley Emergency Program and K’ómoks staff for extreme weather and flood response planning.
Regional FireSmart Committee
Supports a regional approach to Community Wildfire Resilience Planning and regional FireSmart initiatives in the Comox Valley. This committee: Assists with sourcing direct funding for K’ómoks with FireSmart, fuel load management and cultural burning programs and provides for local FireSmart Coordinator role that represents K’ómoks, Comox Valley regional district and municipal partners enabling each to fully participate and inform regional FireSmart initiatives.
The CVRD’s recreation department partnered with the Wachiay Friendship Centre for the second year in a row to host a culture day camp for youth in the Comox Valley. The camp incorporates cultural elements and language so that participants can gain a greater cultural awareness and a sense of identity and connection to land. Activities include storytelling, arts and crafts, walking, hiking, talking circles and exploring Indigenous world views and language.
The CVRD offered two swim events on November 6 and December 4 in partnership with Wachiay Friendship Centre. Participants attended the Everyone Welcome Swim at the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre, which was followed by a private swim in the wave pool and a community gathering in the Wave Room.
K’ómoks First Nation
The CVRD continued to meet regularly with Chief and Council through 2022 with 11 meetings completed and engagement on 28 projects.
In February 2022, the Board endorsed the following territorial acknowledgement to be used at meetings, in-person and virtual events throughout the CVRD’s Area A, B and C, as well as the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and Village of Cumberland and in all written and digital materials:
“The CVRD respectfully acknowledges that the land on which it operates is on the unceded traditional territory of the K'ómoks First Nation, the traditional keepers of this land.”
The term stakeholder in reference to K’ómoks has been removed from CVRD reports and communications materials including board and committee staff reports. Additional standards and requirements will be communicated through the CVRD’s Corporate Identity Guide in 2023 and the Staff Handbook on Meaningful Engagement with Indigenous Communities also provides education for staff about how First Nations are rights holders and not stakeholders.
K’ómoks First Nation Partnerships
Guardian Watchmen Program
The CVRD continues to provide $5,000 in annual financial support to the Guardian Watchmen Program with the understanding these services will be accessed on a fee for service basis. The Guardians supported a variety of CVRD projects in 2022 including: Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan, Dyke Road Park Green Shores Demonstration Project and the Goose Spit Inner Bay Ecosystem Protection Plan.
Comox Valley Sewer Conveyance Project
The CVRD had ongoing engagement throughout 2022 with K’ómoks Chief and Council and administrative staff about how to collaboratively manage impacts on the K’ómoks community from the Sewer Conveyance Project.
- A Cultural Heritage Impacts Mitigation Plan was developed to ensure that all areas along the project alignment within 200m from the shoreline or major waterbodies are handled appropriately. Based on this plan, the CVRD received a Cultural Heritage Investigation Permit and drilling work to confirm the presence or absence of archaeological material within areas of high potential was completed in late 2022.
- In fall 2022, the CVRD enacted its commitment to provide a one-time payment of $3 million as part of the monetary benefits outlined in the Community Benefit Agreement ratified in February 2021. The payment recognizes that the existing sewer line through IR1 was expropriated without adequate consultation and provides compensation for past and future impacts of sewer infrastructure within the reserve
- The CVRD project team also met with the K’ómoks Lands Committee and held an open house for community members in October. Information shared included archaeological mitigations, as well as construction and traffic impacts. Feedback received will inform pre-construction traffic management and construction planning.
- In 2022, the K’ómoks also provided a letter of support for the Comox Valley Sewer Service Liquid Waste Management Plan which has now been submitted to the province for approval.
Sewer Extension South Project
The CVRD continued to partner with K’ómoks to move forward with planning for the Sewer Extension Project, as well as lobby the province for funding support. The project will provide a regional solution for sewer and address the environmental risk to shellfish from poorly functioning septic systems. It is an important step towards reconciliation with K’ómoks, given the environmental impact to Baynes Sound and the opportunity to service its lands to the south that are integral to its economic development.
Nations with Overlapping Territory
The Board has endorsed the following territorial acknowledgement to be used for staff delivering services in Area D (Jubilee Parkway to the Oyster River and east into Strathcona Provincial Park). The acknowledgement is also used for written correspondence, including email signature blocks for the Oyster River Fire Department and CVRD staff delivering Black Creek – Oyster Bay water services.
The CVRD’s [insert department] respectfully acknowledges the land on which it operates is on the unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation and the Ligʷiłdaxʷ Peoples.
The Government of BC’s Consultative Area Database identifies 12 Nations with unceded land or marine territory within the CVRD’s boundaries that overlap with K’ómoks core territory. Engagement with Nations involving land and marine territory has occurred in a regulatory capacity through the Sewer Extension South Project. However, the primary form of engagement for relationship building in 2022 has focused on those Nations with overlapping land territory, specifically through outreach on the Advisory Group on Reconciliation. Staff feel it is an important first step to establish relationships through the Advisory group so that additional outreach at a government to government level can build on this important work in the coming years.
The following workplan was approved by the CVRD Board on on February 28, 2023.
For more information: 2023 Indigenous Relations Staff Report
Advisory Group on Reconciliation
The CVRD will continue to support the establishment and administrative capacity of the Advisory Group on Reconciliation which is facilitated by Wi’la’mola Consulting. As a member of this group, along with the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland, First Nations and Indigenous Community Groups, the CVRD is working to build relationships with local governments and the Indigenous community that are based on respect and meaningful action. Moving forward, Reconciliation initiatives at the CVRD will be identified through the Advisory Group in order to help local governments focus on reconciliation initiatives that are appropriate and meaningful to the Indigenous community.
In 2023, facilitators will work towards obtaining agreements from First Nations and Indigenous groups that formally confirms their participation in the Advisory Group. Regular meeting dates/times will be set and the group will move forward to create an engagement framework that will ensure cultural safety and help to build internal relationships in order to guide the group’s work. Goals for 2023/24 include:
- Development of a communication plan,
- Drafting an action plan, and
- Beginning to identify projects and activities for implementation.
The CVRD recognizes this approach involves patience, time, and a commitment to participate in a collaborative process. This is a long-term project with no identified end date. Its purpose is to establish a process for working together down the long road of reconciliation that will endure beyond election cycles and staffing changes.
Cultural Heritage Investigation Permit requirements
In 2023, the CVRD will begin to prepare a new board policy on Cultural Heritage Investigation Permitting (CHIP) requirements for electoral areas. This proposed policy will provide an opportunity to inform the development community and land owners on obtaining a CHIP from K’ómoks First Nation (K’ómoks). Currently, development proponents are only advised to contact K’ómoks staff when development works are within a certain proximity of watercourse and all areas having high archaeological potential. The proposed board policy would have CVRD implement a permitting process in a collaborative manner with K’ómoks to understand permitting process, timing and information requirements. Staff will consult with K’ómoks prior to bringing the policy to the Board for adoption.
In 2022, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer will work with the Human Resources department to formalize a multi-year training plan for staff that takes into account the feedback gathered following the Truth and Reconciliation training opportunities offered in 2022, as well as staff survey results to identify areas of interest for learning. The goal is to offer a suite of training opportunities to address requests from staff for more learning related to the impacts of colonialism, including the Indian Act, as well as understanding more about local indigenous history, language and culture. The plan would also recognize the desire of those employees who work directly with First Nations to receive more specific training about effective Indigenous Relations in their own work.
Comox Valley Emergency Management program staff will continue building on its strong relationship with K’ómoks and the collaborative work already being done to enhance emergency planning and preparedness as a region being respectful of their knowledge, cultural and heritage. In doing this work, the CVRD acknowledges and respects the rights of all First Nations to govern their own response in an emergency and understands that each Nation will make its own decisions based on the unique needs of their individual communities. Areas of focus include:
- Moving to Regional Service Delivery Model – As Comox Valley Emergency Program transitions to a Regional Service Delivery model, ensuring that K’ómoks maintains a voice within the Comox Valley emergency management decision structure to offer guidance and knowledge.
- Modernization of Emergency Program Act (Act) – While the Act has no legislative authority over First Nations, emergency management program staff will continue learning through and in conversation with K’ómoks so that our jurisdictions may support one another.
- Hosting with Humility and training program for staff/volunteers.
Indigenous Youth Internship Program
Human Resources will lay the groundwork for the development of an Indigenous Youth Internship Program at the CVRD in 2023. Work will include consultation with K’ómoks and other Indigenous groups to understand what barriers exist for youth in accessing employment and mentorship opportunities. Establishment of an internship program will require dialogue with CUPE and USW to support a program, as well as the endorsement of the Executive Management Team at the CVRD.
Memorandum of Understanding for Sewer Extension South Project
The Sewer Extension South Project will provide a regional solution for sewer and address the environmental risk to shellfish from poorly functioning septic systems. It is an important step towards reconciliation with K’ómoks, given the environmental impact to Baynes Sound and the opportunity to service its lands to the south that are integral to its economic development. In 2023, the CVRD aims to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding with K’ómoks on sewer servicing in the south.
In 2023, the CVRD will pursue updates to its procurement policy to consider the inclusion of policy language for increased participation of Indigenous procurement opportunities for capital projects and that additional consideration be offered for proponents/bidders whom have a partnership with K’ómoks; as well as opportunities for direct award where appropriate. The CVRD will pursue policy language that is consistent with the City of Courtenay’s updated procurement policy and will consult with K’ómoks prior to bringing a revised policy to the Board for adoption.
The CVRD will identify further opportunities for partnerships on Indigenous programming in the coming year.
Regional Parks and Trails Service
The CVRD established a regional parks and trails service in 2022 with its municipal partners and will engage with K’ómoks in 2023 to determine if this is an area of shared interest and whether K’ómoks wishes to collaborate with the four local governments to develop the service’s Strategic Plan and Land Acquisition Strategy.
The CVRD will be embarking on a process to develop a regional tourism strategy in 2023. CVRD staff will reach out to the K’ómoks Economic Development Corporation to assess K’ómoks’ potential interest to be engaged in the strategy development. K’ómoks members and indigenous tourism businesses will be engaged as part of the community consultation process.
CVRD will also follow-up with the new Chief and Council to determine if K’ómoks has continued interested in the Visitor Centre and engaging in discussions around potential partnership with CVRD or acquisition of the property.
Relationship Building – K’ómoks Chief and Council
The CVRD will continue engagement with K’ómoks Chief and Council and administrative staff about how to collaboratively manage impacts on the K’ómoks community from the Sewer Conveyance project. This work will continue through 2023 until project completion.
The 2023 workplan recognizes that other projects of joint interest, including government to government meetings and community to community meetings (C2C forums funded by UBCM), with K’ómoks will be further identified through engagement with the new Chief and Council. Should the CVRD’s request for the reinstatement of monthly meetings be granted, staff acknowledge it will take time to build this relationship. Therefore priorities for partnership, consultation and advocacy with K’ómoks as a partner have yet to be established.
Relationship Building – Nations with Overlapping Territory
The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer will seek to build relationships through the Reconciliation Advisory Group with the We Wai Kai Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, and Homalco First Nation in a staff capacity through the Advisory Group on Reconciliation – should these Nations choose to formalize their interest in the group with a commitment to participate. This work can provide an important foundation to establish relationships so that additional outreach at a government to government level can build on this work in the coming years.
Outreach to We Wai Kai Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Homalco First Nation, T’lamin Nation and Qualicum First Nation as part of the Planning and Development Branch’s referral process will proceed as appropriate. Outreach on the Sewer Extension South project will continue with the 12 Nations whose traditional land or marine territory overlap with the K’ómoks.
The CVRD will initiate outreach to First Nations on any additional projects that require regulatory approval and will utilize the Provincial Consultation Database, as well as the province’s Guide to Consulting First Nations, to identify and initiate consultation with those Nations that may have an interest in the project.
Updates to Existing Bylaws, Policies and Processes
Begin work to review existing bylaws, policies and processes through the lens of reconciliation and the intent of UNDRIP, TRC’s Calls to Action and DRIPA to identify where updates and changes are required in order to address systemic colonialism and racism and advance reconciliation. Priorities for 2023 include:
Regional Growth Strategy
The Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) was adopted in 2011 and is in need of updating after several more recent updates locally, provincially, and federally that have reshaped Indigenous relations. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report on the Indian Residential School system and its lasting colonial impacts; in 2019, the Province of BC enshrined the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into provincial law, becoming the first Canadian province to do so; and in 2023, K’ómoks is nearing the end of a lengthy treaty process which will likely culminate with significant land acquisition. All of these events require a political and legal reframing of how Indigenous issues are discussed in the RGS, and this has been highlighted by the RGS Technical Advisory Committee.
Watershed Protection Plan
In 2023 the CVRD will begin to update and modernize its Watershed Protection Plan. As a first step it will revise the document to include language that reflects K’ómoks as rights-holders and stewards of the lands and waters. From there staff will begin engagement with the K’ómoks to incorporate Indigenous historical content. This could include publicly available historical and anthropological sources of information and, with the consent of K’ómoks, could also include information from elders and knowledge keepers. Pending the outcome of engagement with K’ómoks, further updates to the plan could be incorporated in the coming years to more accurately reflect the Indigenous worldview of water stewardship.
The CVRD’s commitment to indigenous reconciliation and relationship building with K’ómoks will require new ways of thinking and acting collaboratively to improve watershed stewardship in all watersheds in the unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks.
In 2021 the CVRD initiated a study to investigate options for an expanded role for local government in watershed stewardship and that work will continue through 2023. The CVRD has been working with K’ómoks to understand how K’ómoks may wish to be involved in a watershed stewardship service and consider potential approaches to collaboration. Future efforts towards watershed stewardship should recognize K’ómoks authority, jurisdiction, governance, and management over natural resources within the territory and incorporate opportunities for collaboration