Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said the First Nation will have more business and other opportunities now that members have voted top adopt the land code. (File photo)

Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Tribes votes to adopt land code

Gives First Nation more control over land and resources

Members of Cowichan Tribes voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new land code in a vote taken over three days last week.

Of the 602 tribes members who voted, 460 said yes, 141 said no and one ballot was spoiled in the vote on the land code, which the First Nation refers to as Quw’utsun Tumuhw.

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said he was not surprised by the result.

“Our staff did an excellent job getting to the people and educating them on what the land code is about,” he said.

“It’s been a long process, but I’m pleased that we finally got here. Now we can begin moving forward with plans to construct new buildings to create more office space, apartments and other uses as we create more business and other opportunities on band land.”

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN TRIBES ANNOUNCES ANOTHER VOTE ON LAND CODE

Cowichan Tribes is now the 89th First Nation in Canada and the 49th in B.C. to have voted to a accept a land code.

Under the land code, first established under a framework agreement between First Nations and Ottawa 23 years ago, it’s recognized that First Nations have an inherent right to manage their reserve lands and resources under their own land codes, free from constraints imposed by the province and federal officials under the Indian Act.

In the past, Cowichan Tribes needed permission from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to do any development on its lands, from building homes to leasing property, and the process sometimes took years, stifling many attempts by the First Nation to seize on business, housing and other opportunities.

Members of Cowichan Tribes voted on implementing the land code in 2007, but it was unsuccessful because not enough band members turned out to vote.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN TRIBES PLAN ANOTHER VOTE

This time, the majority vote of those who cast ballots was required for the land code to be adopted, as opposed to the majority of Cowichan Band members who are eligible to vote like it was the last time.

Seymour said he believes many of those who voted against the land code had a lot of misconceptions of what adopting it means for the Cowichan Tribes’ community, even after the extensive education campaign by the band leadership to explain all aspects of the option to them.

“Some think that all the land that everyone has will now become band land, and that’s not true,” he said.

“If band members hold a certificate of possession for their property, they will still own their land under the land code.”

RELATED STORY: PROTESTERS GET THE EAR OF COWICHAN TRIBES WITH ATTEMPTED BLOCKADE

Seymour said a lot of work has to be done to implement the land code.

He said some land-use policies that will be used under the land code are already in place, but a number of new laws and policies have to be put in place.

“There are templates that we can use here, and we’ll be working with a federal land advisory board, which looks after issues like this on land across Canada, to develop our next steps,” Seymour said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

USS Wrestling team takes unique detour around Tofino-Ucluelet highway closure to rock Abbotsford tournament

“It was a pretty fun weekend actually. We had a good time. It was a bit of an adventure.”

Friday’s earthquake a reminder to be prepared, says Ucluelet mayor

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Central Westcoast Forest Society is searching for wood and trees

Scrap wood will be used to help rebuild the local salmon populations near Tofino and Ucluelet.

UPDATED: Tofino-Ucluelet highway reopens after bridge installed earlier than expected

Hwy. 4 now open to all vehicles, including delivery trucks and RVs

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read