Courtenay Adopts United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

November 3, 2020

The City of Courtenay has recently adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), pledging to use it as the framework for indigenous reconciliation.

Courtenay will be incorporating UNDRIP principles in the development of the updated Official Community Plan, and working with K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) to incorporate UNDRIP into planning and decision-making, as well as developing a program to educate City staff about UNDRIP and the history and culture of the KFN.

Mayor Bob Wells said the resolutions formally enshrine Courtenay’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. “Our Council has been looking for ways to work towards reconciliation for some time, and this is a great step forward. It provides a tangible goal for us to take words and move them into action, and find opportunities to get KFN a seat at the table as decisions are made. I thank Councillor Will Cole-Hamilton for his work with KFN and City staff in bringing these resolutions forward for our Council.”

“K’ómoks First Nation and the City of Courtenay have an established working relationship that is further cemented in the City’s unanimous decision to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Chief Nicole Rempel of the K’ómoks First Nation. “Reconciliation is a very broad discussion but through acts of leadership such as this, we can look forward to finding ways to strengthen our relationship, and ultimately working together when it comes to decisions within our unceded territory. I am proud of the City’s decision and KFN looks forward to further discussions with their leadership and assisting in any way in the development of their Framework, sharing our history, and creating a vision that recognizes KFN’s history and Rights.”

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission listed UNDRIP as “the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian Society” in 2015. The Government of Canada announced plans to align federal laws with UNDRIP in 2016, with formal legislation expected by the end of 2020. The Government of British Columbia passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act based on UNDRIP principles unanimously in November 2019.

The City of Courtenay identified building on good relations with KFN and practicing reconciliation as a strategic priority for 2019-22. Courtenay is one of the first local governments in BC to adopt UNDRIP principles.