Uy’ skweyul.  (Good day.)

For the last 4 years I have been leading efforts, as CVRD Board Chair and Mayor of North Cowichan, to build trust with the First nations whose Traditional Territory we share. At the Regional District level, the Board has supported the work of the Cultural Connections Program to bring our communities together and advance Truth and Reconciliation. That requires facing the truth of how terribly First Nations have been treated in our country and the crippling impacts of a colonization that attacked every part of a traditional life and culture.

At a recent gathering of Elders from across the Province, Cowichan Tribes adopted the motto “We are still here”. We have an opportunity today to work with First Nations as they rebuild their culture in a modern world. Their success will be our success as a community as we deal with the difficult issues –  affordable housing, climate change, water protection, addiction etc. – that face all of us.

Relationship-building takes time and sincere commitment, something I hope we can all commit to as we create a community together. The Hul’q’umi’num  language has a beautiful word “nuts’a’maut” that literally means working together as one, but has much deeper meaning to those who practice it. That is what we need to strive for as we move out of a dark past  and into the light.

Huy ch q’u (thank you)

Jon