CRD looks to strengthen ties with First Nations

Capital Regional District board members approved a recommendation Wednesday to establish a standing First Nations relations committee.

The issue will now go to the next board, which could be different after the Oct. 20 municipal election.

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The current board also agreed to support the creation of working groups to help build stronger relationships between First Nations and local governments, and adopted a proposed statement of reconciliation.

The statement says, in part, that the CRD is home to the traditional territories of more than 20 First Nations “whose ancestors have been taking care of the land since time immemorial.”

“The CRD believes that a positive working relationship with First Nations is good for the whole region,” the statement says. “For the CRD to have a positive relationship with First Nations we need to acknowledge, respect and complement their Indigenous laws, customs and systems of governance.”

The statement and other moves were recommended by a task force formed in 2015. “It really is just a start,” said Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto, who chaired the task force.

Alto said she is “tremendously proud” of what the group accomplished.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen called the move toward reconciliation “a moral imperative.”

“This is a modest proposal but a necessary proposal.”

Not included in the elements approved Wednesday were recommendations including paying First Nations participants on CRD committees and commissions, and holding an annual Forum of All Councils bringing together 11 First Nations, 13 municipalities, three electoral areas and the federal and provincial governments.

Those will be dealt with by the post-election board.

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