Councillor Stephanie Charlie, right, talks with protesters Thursday about various Cowichan Tribes concerns. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Councillor Stephanie Charlie, right, talks with protesters Thursday about various Cowichan Tribes concerns. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Protesters get the ear of Cowichan Tribes with attempted blockade

They didn’t close anything down but they did get to talk for an hour about their concerns

A group of disgruntled First Nations people attempted a blockade of Cowichan Tribes administration centre on Thursday, Oct. 4.

The couple of dozen protesters didn’t succeed in blocking entry to the offices, but were able to get a Cowichan Tribes councillor to listen for an hour to their concerns about housing, apprehension of children, employment of too many non-Native people in Cowichan Tribes administration and more.

The protest was organized by elder Sam Wilson, who was among those in attendance

Councillor Stephanie Charlie said, “I’ll bring your message back and share these items.”

“We need reform of rental housing,” said protester Sharon Lewis. “It affects younger people than myself. We’re overlooked. It needs to be updated every year.”

Lewis and several others were concerned about education and employment opportunities.

“There are too many non-Native, non-Cowichan people employed here,” she said.

Charlie told her that Cowichan Tribes needs to hire the people best qualified for the job but that comment didn’t go down well with the protesters.

Replies like “What about all the Cowichan members that were turned down? I tried to further my education and I had to go to government just to get my education. You say we need to go and get education. I’ve been denied by my own Cowichan Tribes,” showed that this is a discussion that has been going on for some time.

Lewis brought up another topic.

“Cowichan Tribes members are homeless. I’m homeless. I’ve been evicted out of my place. You’re ignoring me. This is all our land. If we’re self government how come everybody ignores me here?”

Charlie said, “We do have our policies. I can’t answer for departments. We do have your list. Everything is on here.”

She promised that more opportunities for those with issues will be set up in the future, so Tribes can hear and deal with their concerns.

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