As part of taking steps toward reconciliation and building relationships, members of the K’omoks First Nation hosted an intergovernmental meeting this week.
Known as hɛhɛwčɩs (Moving Forward), the two-day meeting at the K’omoks First Nation Band Hall was the third and final session in a series, which included members of KFN previously meeting individually with local municipalities.
KFN Coun. Melissa Quocksister said the meetings came together because K’omoks First Nation has been involved in treaty negotiations for more than 20 years, and a lot of what was at the negotiation table were roadblocks when negotiating with government at provincial and federal levels.
“Some of those roadblocks are what pertains to us locally – that’s the local government jurisdiction,” she noted. “Information exchange and … building relationships because that’s what everything really comes down to in the end – the relationship between our nation and local governments, municipalities.
“If a relationship is good, good things are going to happen. If the relationship is not good, there’s going to be holdups to projects and other things that are beneficial to everybody in the Valley, including the nation.”
She explained the session covered the current governance structure and process of KFN, the history of the K’omoks people and their territory, along with economic development and aspirations for the future.
They also delved into treaty talks with the goal of dispelling fear.
“We talked about treaty and how that may or may not affect the Comox Valley. It’s a big change but a lot of people don’t know what that means and that promotes a lot of fear. We’ve been taking the time to explain what the treaty process is all about, what that could look like for the Valley and share with them, so they can do some future planning on their own to incorporate those changes into their future.”
Quocksister said the greatest takeaway from the discussions was on reconciliation and what that means, specifically what it means to municipalities, groups, individuals and the greater community. She commended local governments for attending the sessions and demonstrating that reconciliation is important to them.
“Is it (reconciliation) words, is it actions, is it a feeling? It’s all of those things,” she noted. “We are on the same page, we want to be in the same place. We want a better Comox Valley for everybody, we want to improve our territory for everybody.”
Participating municipalities and local governments included the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland, Comox Valley Regional District, Islands Trust, Strathcona Regional District and the Village of Sayward.