Photo: (Top) Local archaeologist Jesse Morin explains how indigenous families inhabited the banks of the Comox Estuary. (Bottom) Hegus (Chief) Rempel, Councillors Frank, Hardy and Mitchell, Wedlidi Speck, along with CVRD directors and staff, learn about the fish traps that fed the indigenous families who lived along the Comox Estuary and the banks of the Puntledge River.

 

The K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) and the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) recently shared a day of learning about the history and culture of indigenous peoples in the Comox Valley. The Community to Community initiative was part of a continued effort to strengthen the working relationship between the two organizations.

KFN Councillors and staff, along with CVRD Directors and staff, toured several archaeologically significant sites in the Pentlatch area, which is now known as the Comox Valley. Stops included Brooklyn Creek in Mack Laing Park, the site of one of the largest known shell middens in the Comox Valley. Numerous middens are known to exist along the foreshore and provide archaeological proof that generations of indigenous families inhabited the banks of the Pentlatch from 300 BC to 1850 AD.

“Bringing awareness of our culturally significant sites, and the importance of protecting the approximately 10% remaining undisturbed sites to local leadership in the Comox Valley is critical to the success of KFN being able to protect these areas,” said Hegus (Chief) Nicole Rempel. “KFN is pleased to work with local leadership in all municipalities to ensure that with a better understanding of K’ómoks history and present use of our territory we can strengthen our relationships and protect our history for future generations”.

The group also visited Rotary Park to view the remains of the largest fish trap discovered in North America and possibly the world. From 800 AD to 1850 AD, these traps were used year round to catch the salmon and herring that fed the indigenous families who lived along the Comox Estuary and the banks of the Puntledge River. Traps were hundreds of metres in size with a consistent design involving thousands of wooden stakes made from Douglas fir trees.

“Our guides provided us with so much rich history and cultural information about this land that connects all of us,” said Arzeena Hamir, Vice Chair of the Comox Valley Regional District. “To know that we have archeological sites that go back thousands of years, that the local peoples had engineered such extensive fishing weirs and to learn how new families were integrated into the culture was eye-opening. It was an honour to witness and be part of this experience”.

The Community to Community (C2C) forum was made possible by a grant from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). The first C2C meeting of 2019 was held in February. The CVRD has committed to following up on additional grant opportunities to co-host future community meetings with KFN. For more information about these meetings and other KFN/CVRD initiatives please visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/KFN.

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, Sasitla, leeksun or Eiksan and Puntledge. Two cultures are identified in their community: Coast Salish (Island-Comox speaking peoples and Pentlatch-speaking peoples) and Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwak̓ wala speaking peoples). K’ómoks people originally occupied sites in Kelsey Bay, Quinsam, Campbell River, Quadra Island, while Pentlatch people occupied sites around Comox Harbour, Baynes Sound and Hornby and Denman islands. 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.

 

Christianne Wile

Manager of External Relations, Corporate Services Branch, Comox Valley Regional District