Chief Jeff Jones (Pacheedaht) and Alternate Director Rick Kasper (Sooke)Local government has a critical role to play in supporting First Nations economic aspirations and cultural resurgence. A proactive approach with deep engagement and a commitment to establishing a thoughtful governance framework that both resonates with First Nations and reflects the Board’s strategic priorities, will ensure a strong fully regional approach relative to growth management, environmental protection and restoration, efficient service delivery and smart infrastructure planning.

The CRD Board, through the work of the First Nations Relations Division has approved a number of bylaw changes to provide for the inclusion of First Nations elected representatives on CRD standing committees. First Nations have expressed a desire for an increased role in regional decision-making and this opportunity creates space for more inclusive discussions and First Nations involvement in CRD governance. The approved bylaw changes create a flexible model of inclusion where First Nations elected representatives can formally participate and vote on items of interest at CRD standing committees.

As part of the consultation process with First Nations, CRD staff reached out to Councils and staff from local Nations to seek further input on the bylaw and discuss if they have additional interests and how they envision participation at the committee level. Staff continue to engage all First Nations in the region to continue the conversation and reinforce the opportunity of the flexible model while still working towards more inclusive and collaborative governance.

This initiative is intended to support the participation of First Nations in CRD decision-making while also establishing a foundation to better understand how new decision-making systems could be created together. At this time, Provincial legislation limits full First Nations participation on the CRD Board except through a modern treaty. The Board will continue to advocate the Provincial government to reconsider a role for First Nations.

This effort to facilitate increased participation of First Nations in CRD governance is an important and measurable step towards the Board priority of First Nations Reconciliation and in working toward strong relationships with First Nations based on trust and mutual respect, partnerships and working together on shared goals.