Pending final approval by the board of directors next week, the Comox Valley Regional District will open all future board, committee, and commission meetings with a statement that recognizes the meetings are taking place on the traditional territories of the K’ómoks First Nation (KFN).
Area B director Rod Nichol brought forth the recommendation to the regional district’s committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 19. It passed unanimously, meaning it will go to the CVRD’s Feb. 27 board meeting for final approval.
Verbally acknowledging that public meetings and civic events are taking place on traditional Indigenous territory has increased in prevalence across Canada following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report’s findings from 2015.
Most recently, the city council for St. John’s in Newfoundland approved such a protocol on Feb. 19.
“I think it’s important that we start moving towards what’s happening all across Canada and recognize the fact that when we start our meetings, that we’re doing our business on the unceded territory of the K’ómoks First Nations,” said Nichol, who is also the CVRD’s board representative for the KFN Treaty Negotiations.
“Since the arrival of Europeans on Vancouver Island, the First Nations have been totally dismissed and absolutely marginalized, even today,” he said. “It is important that we step up to the plate, accept where we are, accept them as equals, and recognize them at the beginning of our meetings.”
KFN band administrator Tina McLean said the KFN is okay with the CVRD’s proposed protocol.
“It’s just something out of respect that recognizes where they are. It’s not uncommon,” she said. “With them making a supported statement — it’s fine with us.”
If approved by the board, the CVRD will be the first of the Comox Valley’s four governments to establish the verbal recognition before meetings — although the Town of Comox recognizes it in writing on its meeting agendas and packages.