Vancouver Island First Nation officially joins regional district as full member

Kyuquot Sound-based KCFN becomes part of the Strathcona Regional District

A welcoming ceremony was held at the meeting of the SRD board April 14, where gifts were exchanged between KCFN Director Kevin Jules (left) and SRD Chair Brad Unger (right) to mark the historic occasion. Photo Submitted

A welcoming ceremony was held at the meeting of the SRD board April 14, where gifts were exchanged between KCFN Director Kevin Jules (left) and SRD Chair Brad Unger (right) to mark the historic occasion. Photo Submitted

For the first time in its history, the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) had First Nations sitting at the table today as a full member of the board, fulfilling a commitment under the Maa-nulth Treaty.

“We have just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Maa-nulth Final Agreement,” says Kevin Jules, legislative vice chief and SRD board member for the Kyuqout Sound-based Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ (KCFN) First Nations.

“For KCFN, this has been a long journey and a long time coming in finally joining with the SRD, that I am very fortunate to be a part of. Joining the SRD is a new experience for everyone. Working together shows we are moving in the direction of reconciliation. This is a huge step forward in being heard and recognized as a modern treaty Nation. We look forward in working with the SRD to help our Nation and all of our communities build and grow together.”

A welcoming ceremony was held at the meeting, where gifts were exchanged between KCFN and SRD to mark the historic occasion.

“KCFN’s membership on the SRD is a tangible act of reconciliation that strengthens the government-to-government relationship and benefits everyone,” says Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “KCFN’s membership on the board benefits everyone in the region by sharing new perspectives grounded in the Nations’ long-standing connections to the surrounding lands and people. I commend KCFN and the regional district for working together in building a strong and positive relationship.”

RELATED: Island First Nation on track to join SRD board

The Maa-nulth treaty, which came into effect on April 1, 2011, provided an opportunity for all five member First Nations to join their local regional district. Co-operative relationships and improved communication between local governments and First Nations can help close socio-economic gaps between Indigenous people and other British Columbians, provide valuable perspectives and support reconciliation at a regional level.

“The SRD is honoured to have KCFN join the board as an active partner in our regional governance,” says SRD chair Brad Unger. “We recognize the diversity of our region and look forward to collaborating with KCFN on regional issues and common interests to build and improve the SRD. KCFN is the first of the local First Nations to join the board and we hope this leads to future relationships with others.”

As part of the process to welcome KCFN into the SRD, the Province has changed the regional district’s letters patent to name KCFN as a member of the regional district. Letters patent are legal documents that establish the regional district itself and define its boundaries and the areas represented on its board. The update describes KCFN’s role in the local government system in the region and publicly acknowledges the Province’s treaty commitments.

“Seeing local and Indigenous governments working together, strengthening their relationships and collaborating on services that will benefit people is a milestone for reconciliation and for good governance,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “KCFN brings fresh perspectives to the SRD and a strong voice that will help keep small communities in the region vibrant and economically sustainable.”

RELATED: KCFN, SRD meet to discuss upcoming First Nation inclusion to board

KCFN is now also a member of the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District board. KCFN has been participating as an observer on both boards since 2013.

KCFN is the only First Nation to join the SRD. The other Maa-nulth Nations (Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Toquaht Nation, Uchucklesaht Tribe Government, and Yuułuʔiłʔath Government) are members of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

The Maa-nulth Treaty is the third modern-day treaty ratified by British Columbia and Canada. Representing five First Nations along Vancouver Island’s west coast, this landmark treaty includes direction for the Nations to join their respective regional district within 10 years.

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