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

Langford pitches Westhills as Canadian Premier League soccer hub

Langford could host all eight teams for August matches

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

Person finds bag of drugs while out for walk in Langford

Police ask residents, drivers to check surveillance footage

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Stepdad able to walk bride down the aisle days before he passes away

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read