Photos : (Top) KFN Dancers Fernanda Pare, Chief Nicole Rempel, Pam Mitchell, Donna Mitchell, Ashley Newman and Katherine Frank (not pictured) with singer Rick Everson. (Bottom) CVRD Directors and KFN Chief and Council from left to right: Back Row – CVRD Alternate Director Mannos Theos, Chair Bob Wells, Director David Frisch, KFN Councillor Katherine Frank, Director Arzeena Hamir, KFN Councillor Richard Hardy, Directors Daniel Arbour, Jesse Ketler and Doug Hillian; Middle Row – Directors Melanie McCollum, Wendy Morin and Alternate Director Gwyn Sproule, KFN Chief Nicole Rempel and Councillor Barb Mitchell, Directors Edwin Grieve and Maureen Swift; Front – Director Will Cole-Hamilton
The K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) and Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) have committed to moving forward together in a culture of partnership, including future community to community forums and initiatives to foster better working relationships.
The commitments were made at a community meeting co-hosted by the KFN and the CVRD, which was attended by KFN Chief and Council, Elders and Hereditary Chiefs; CVRD directors and staff; City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and Village of Cumberland councillors and staff; and representatives for Members of Parliament Gord Johns and Rachel Blaney and MLA Ronna-Ray Leonard. The forum was intended to bring community officials together to learn about the culture and history of the KFN and provided an opportunity for the newly elected Chief and Council to meet with directors and councillors from the CVRD and partner municipalities.
“It was so great to see representation from each local municipality,” stated Chief Nicole Rempel of the K’ómoks First Nation. “Our previous and current KFN Council shared a vision of bringing our municipalities together to discuss opportunities for collaboration and to develop a shared vision. The hope was to build better relationships by enlightening and bringing awareness of KFN, our history, our culture and our plans for the future. Productive relationships, improved communications and defining our own version of reconciliation will help to close socio-economic gaps and remove barriers that inhibit our common goals that benefit all our communities.”
“As an organization we are firmly committed to building trust with the KFN and this forum provided us with an opportunity to increase understanding of their culture, priorities and goals,” explained CVRD Chair, Bob Wells. “This is an important step in working together on issues of joint interest and furthering our culture of cooperation together as leaders in our communities.”
Judith Sayers of the Hupačasath First Nation delivered the key note speech, which highlighted the significance of relationship building and partnerships between First Nations and local governments. Sayers has been named as an officer to the Order of Canada and was Chief of the Hupačasath First Nation for 14 years. She has worked tirelessly to promote First Nations rights and title on the international stage and her guidance on how local governments can support First Nations was a key pillar of the event.
Local Archeologist Jesse Morin helped to set context for forum attendees by providing background on the history and culture of the Pentlatch area, which is now known as the Comox Valley and located on the unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation.
The day ended with a roundtable where attendees expressed their thanks for the opportunity to come together and learn more about the history of their community.
The Community to Community forum was made possible by a grant from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and the CVRD has committed to following up on opportunities to co-host a future meeting. In addition, the regional district will work with KFN to develop guidelines for its staff to effectively engage with the KFN about its projects.
The K’ómoks First Nation is located in the heart of the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. Membership is currently 336 members within four clans: Sathloot, Saseetla, Leeksun and Puntledge. Two cultures are identified in their community: Coast Salish (Island-Comox speaking peoples) and Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwak̓ wala speaking peoples). K’ómoks originally occupied sites in Kelsey Bay, Quinsam, Campbell River, Quadra Island, Kye Bay and along the Puntledge Estuary. For more information, please visit www.komoks.ca.
The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.