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 teh CVRD and teh 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.