The Comox Valley Regional District came together with the K’ómoks First Nation and elected officials in March 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 (UNDRIP) 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 co-operative 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,” CVRD chair Jesse Ketler said. “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.”
This was one of three community meetings the CVRD hosted in partnership with the KFN since 2019. Attendees included elected officials and staff from the Town of Comox, City of Courtenay, Village of Cumberland, Village of Sayward, School District 71, and Islands Trust. These gatherings are intended to strengthen relationships and encourage collaboration between the parties. FMI: 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 initiatives to develop policy, strengthen relationships and support learning is available at comoxvalleyrd.ca/indigenousrelations