first nations

Lake Cowichan First Nations meeting

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A couple weeks ago, members of the CVRD board had a C2C (Council to Council) meeting with Lake Cowichan FN Council. We talked about what each of us was up to as well as possible ways that we could collaborate.

We also talked about our values as councils which we all saw were very similar values such as: environment, transparency and youth.

As it stands right now, the CVRD doesn’t have a policy or system in place for First nation relationships. So historically, its been a free for all ad-hoc system that hasn’t worked very well or at all. Our Chief Administration Officer (CAO), Brian, has identified this as a policy that we need to work on in this term. I couldn’t agree more.

This was a first step in that direction with Lake Cowichan Tribes. Each nation will have different ways to address these relationships but one by one, I hope that we can work on it. While many first nations don’t sit at the CVRD table, we HAVE to work together to move forward in this valley and these protocols are a step in the right direction.

Watershed Tour

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I had the chance to go on a full day watershed tour with Rodger Hunter last week. The group you see in the photos is various law students at UVIC who came to see not only the watershed but also to ask questions about our unique watershed governance structure that we have in place here in the Cowichan Valley.

We started at Lake Cowichan Weir and got a lesson on the relationship that we have with Catalyst (who currently own the Weir and water licence). I learned that the Lake acts as our storage reservoir for the summer months and the goal is a 7 cubic meters per second of flow down the river. Catalyst is one of the members of the Cowichan Watershed board as well as members from the community, CVRD directors and first nations. I learned from the UVic professor that our board is the only one to have First Nations as full members.

Ian Morrison, the director for Lake Cowichan/Skutz Falls, was on site to help give us some background about the challenges that face riparian areas and the lake cowichan area.

Next on the tour was the Cowichan First Nations administration buildings where the law students heard from a representative of the band about its role in the board and tasks that were underway with the waterways and the bands.

In the second to last photo are some of the CVRD staff who we met with behind the old Malaspina college. By the river, they explained the initiatives that the CVRD was undertaking, some of the misconceptions people had about water as well as way we are trying to inform the public about water in the Cowichan Valley.

Lastly, we visited the Cowichan Bay Estuary as well as the Estuary educational center.

I’m really taken aback by not only the size, scope and challenges of our watershed but also by the water champions, like Rodger Hunter, who have helped guide us in the right direction with a collaborative approach. I wish there was a way to get the word out more about these great people and programs.