In January 1997, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and the First Nations Summit jointly organized the first province-wide Community to Community Forum.
The event brought together First Nations and local governments from across B.C. to discuss common goals and opportunities for joint action. Based on the success of that forum, it was recommended the UBCM support regional forums around B.C.
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) have jointly hosted several Regional Community to Community Forums in the past. One of the big things to come out of one of our earlier forums was a brainstorming session on a Communications Protocol, which was later formalized and signed and is still in use by the RDEK and KNC today.
Since our last Community to Community Forum with the KNC in 2012, there are a number of new municipal, regional district and First Nations elected officials. As a result, the RDEK and KNC will be hosting a joint Community to Community Forum in late November and we are looking forward to the opportunity to network, discuss issues of common concern, build new and expand on existing relationships. I look forward to good dialogue and learning.
The RDEK has also submitted an application for funding to host a Regional Community to Community Forum with the Shuswap Band. If the funding application is successful, the forum would be held in the Columbia Valley in early 2016 and would involve the Chief and Council, along with administration from the Shuswap Band as well as the Mayors, Councils and senior management officials from the three Columbia Valley Municipalities, the Area F and G Director and senior RDEK management. I am hopeful that our application will be approved and very much look forward to the opportunity for us to sit down and get together with our Shuswap neighbours.
The goal of a Regional Community to Community Forum is to increase understanding and to improve overall relations between First Nations and local governments. We are fortunate in that we currently have good working relationships with both the Shuswap and Ktunaxa Nation and I look forward to continuing to build on that foundation.
Gerry Wilkie is the Regional District of East Kootenay director for Area G, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.