A totem pole erected by the K’ómoks First Nation stands on the band's lands on the end of Goose Spit on Feb.12th, 2018. The pole is part of a larger project by K’ómoks First Nation to signify their traditional territories in the Comox Valley. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio
COURTENAY, B.C- The largest community in the Comox Valley is going to start acknowledging their presence on unceded land.
During the meeting of Courtenay city council on March 19, the gathered members passed a motion raised by Councillor Rebecca Lennox to begin a practice of acknowledgement from the municipal government about the community being on unceded territory of the K’ómoks First Nation.
The practice is already done in the Valley by the Town of Comox, who include a territorial acknowledgement in their council agendas. The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) also has a protocol in place.
“We respectfully acknowledge that we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the K’ómoks First Nation … Gila’kasla … Hay ch q’ a’”, appears in the Comox agenda header.
“I would like to acknowledge that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation”,” is read out by the chair of the CVRD prior to the start of all meetings of the board.
With the motion passed, how Courtenay’s municipal government will handle the territorial acknowledgement has yet to be determined. Mayor Larry Jangula didn’t have a preferred form in mind.
“I just think that it’s all part of working together, it’s part of the healing process, it’s part of going forward with First Nations, and we need to do that,” said Jangula, after the meeting.
The move was also welcomed by Chief Nicole Rempel of K’ómoks First Nation.
“We think that the city of Courtenay and all the local municipalities recognition of our unceded traditional territories and the fact that they operate in the unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation is a forward step,” said Rempel.
“We’re pleased to work with our local municipalities in acknowledging that fact.”
She also didn’t have a preferred form.
“Really, I’m not sure that it matters what format they do it in,” said Rempel.
“It’s just that they are acknowledging the unceded traditional territory.”
Citing “excellent conversations” that K’ómoks has been having with local municipalities, Rempel said a number had expressed a desire to take up the same practice.
“We’re looking forward to a number of them doing that.”