The Strathcona Regional District Board (aka two rural area directors) for a second time on June 27th voted in opposition of my motion to move the location of the Klahoose Marina rezoning public hearing to the Klahoose Hall. There are four of us that vote on these rural land use planning matters and a majority of three would have needed to vote in support, but only Jim Abram and I did, so the motion was defeated. The public hearing will be held, as directed by the board, at the Gorge Hall on Wednesday July 24th at 1 pm. To view the full application and associated staff report, please go to http://srdws.strathconard.ca/Agenda_minutes/SRDBoard/BRD/23-May-13/20130513-Yates-Proposed-Bylaw-No-171-Cortes-Island-Zoning-Bylaw-Amendment-Combined.pdf
. * If you support or oppose this application, or have any input, please send your comments to planningstrathconard.ca or write Attention Planning Department, Strathcona Regional District, 301-990 Cedar St, Campbell River, BC, V9W 7Z8, or come in person to the public hearing.
For a media article on last week’s meeting and the ensuing decision, please read the Campbell River Mirror article from July 2 here http://www.campbellrivermirror.com/news/214021301.html
I would like to elaborate below on two subsets of the above situation – ‘Democratic Process’ and ‘Aboriginal Cultural Competency.’Democratic Process
Klahoose Chief James Delorme and Councilor Kathy Frances attended the June 12th SRD board meeting in person to request that the public hearing location be changed to the Klahoose Hall. This request was denied. Two weeks later, the board received 17 letters from Cortes Residents (see near bottom of the page at http://srdws.strathconard.ca/section_rdb/minutes.asp?id=2754&collection=6&AgendaType=1&MeetingDate=6/27/2013&MeetingType=52)
, a delegation in person by two Cortes residents – Conrad Dombrowski & Fawn Baron, and a petition (both electronic http://www.change.org/petitions/strathcona-regional-district-board-be-respectful-of-the-wishes-of-the-klahoose-first-nation
and hand signed on paper http://srdws.strathconard.ca/Agenda_minutes/SRDBoard/BRD/27-Jun-13/Sarah-Downey-Petition-Updated.pdf
) signed by 150-190 people (depending on which cut-off date one chooses) – all asking for the same – that the public hearing location be changed to the Klahoose Hall. My position, as the Cortes Director was also clear in supporting this request. However, prior to me being able to make the motion to change the location, my three rural colleagues passed a pre-discussed procedural motion (without my prior knowledge or support) in an unsuccessful attempt to render my motion for a location change ‘out of order.’ They did this by amending the original motion to set the public hearing date, time, location etc to include a line that stated "with the intent of holding the public hearing on neutral territory."
I then stated that in my opinion there is no neutral territory in a small community, that this issue was a red herring, and that it is incumbent on the public hearing chair (which has been delegated to me in this instance) to run a meeting where everyone is made as comfortable as possible to speak their opinion. Further, if anyone is indeed uncomfortable speaking in person, or attending the public hearing, they are welcome to submit comment in writing.
When I did get to make the motion to change the public hearing location (which was deemed to be in order) I stated that there is no separating this conversation from the issue of First Nation governments. I said that if it is our intention as local government, as a child of Canada and BC, to move into an era of reconciliation and accommodation, it cannot just be on our terms. We cannot simply look to our past practices. We must also look forward into the new era we are entering and listen, really listen to the requests of our neighbouring First Nation governments. Accommodation and reconciliation will mean that we will need to grow and change – and change is hard. This is hard. It is also necessary.
I carried on by saying that the simple location of this public hearing is symbolic of so much more. It is the will of Cortes, Klahoose and me as their representative that this hearing be held where it is most accessible to the people most affected by this application, Squirrel Cove residents and the Klahoose people. I reminded us that there is a level of professional deference that we afford to each other as rural area directors and I asked that in this instance this professional deference be afforded to Cortes.
This was not the will of my colleagues and my motion was defeated.
Although this is the first time that the board has so clearly gone against the will of the Cortes director and the Cortes community, it is a trend that I truly believe has been building for some years. This is why I wrote about this concern a year ago in my article ‘Witness & Transparency in Local Government’ found here http://www.cortesisland.com/tideline/show5042a5s0x50y1z/July_Regional_Director_Newsletter
. I have been making some enquiries into the option of holding a Cortes Dialogue Circle on Governance and Democracy. I would warmly welcome your input on this matter.Aboriginal Cultural Competency
I presented to the Regional District board last week a report that suggested ways in which the board might consider gaining training in aboriginal cultural competency. That report can be read at http://srdws.strathconard.ca/Agenda_minutes/SRDBoard/BRD/27-Jun-13/June-2013-Director-N_Anderson-report.pdf
. In this report I quote a letter that the board received from Klahoose Chief James Delorme, and letters in response from both myself and the chair of the board. Extensive excerpts from these letters were published in the Campbell River Mirror found at http://www.campbellrivermirror.com/news/205474201.html
, and the letters in their entirety are here at http://srdws.strathconard.ca/Agenda_minutes/SRDBoard/BRD/25-Apr-13/Delorme-to-SRD-and-SRD-Response-to-Klahoose-and-SRD-Relationship-Combined.pdf
. Delorme wrote: “My hope is one day government officials like Ms. Anderson will get educated on First Nations rights in the modern world and start treating our people with the respect they deserve.”
I outlined ways in which I have been educating myself in this regard and extended this challenge to the full board.
I would like to end this somewhat grim article on a local proactive note. I would like to extend Chief Delorme’s challenge more broadly also to the Cortes community. To this end, I am working to bring Kathi Camilleri to Cortes on Friday, August 9th to facilitate a day-long aboriginal cultural competency workshop open to all called “Building Bridges Through Understanding the Village.”
This is a workshop that Kathi has hosted in many professional fields, with health care and social workers, with educators, politicians and community members. In the attached info flyer about the workshop, Kathi writes:“This experiential workshop… will help us to understand traditional Aboriginal ways and values. We will explore our personal role in supporting the revival of those values that worked so beautifully for thousands of years. We will also explore, in-depth, the affects of Residential Schools and Canada’s Policy of Assimilation. This workshop is geared to solutions rather than recrimination and is a great forum in which to ask questions.
Participants who choose to come to these often emotion provoking workshop experiences, comment that they understood a bit about the issue on a cognitive level, but after participation in ‘Building Bridges Through Understanding the Village,’ they understand on a deep emotional level as well. The workshop is done from a non-blame and non-shame perspective and invites all participants to become a part of the healing that IS already happening.”
This workshop will be totally public and open to all participants. I hope you will be able to join me in this compelling work. Time and location details to follow.
I commend the words of the petition mentioned above. It says:“We, the children of our ancestors, whose colonizing actions lead to much suffering
of the First People of this land, acknowledge the egregious mistakes of the past. We are a new generation of people and we are ready to face the past and stand up and acknowledge that reconciliation with First Nations is the work of our time. We are committed to it.”
Given that true leadership often comes from the grassroots rather than from government, I invite the Cortes community to take the next step toward reconciliation with First Nations – the work of our time – and join me in this workshop with Kathi Camilleri which will help us gain a better understanding of aboriginal traditions and the impact of colonization. We together can learn and chart a community course for this most compelling work.
Cortes Regional Director
Strathcona Regional District
directorcortesisland.com, 250-935-0320* Please note that although all the information that most of you will want can be found through the previous link, any additional supporting documentation can be found in the public hearing binder at the Strathcona Regional District office or at the Gorge Hall during the public hearing.