Cowichan Tribes’ Chief William Seymour says an agreement with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada will see the department pay 80 per cent of the costs of the removal of mould from homes on the reserve. Pictured is a reserve home with serious mould issues. 
(Submitted photo)

Cowichan Tribes’ Chief William Seymour says an agreement with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada will see the department pay 80 per cent of the costs of the removal of mould from homes on the reserve. Pictured is a reserve home with serious mould issues. (Submitted photo)

Chief of Cowichan Tribes says work being done to address housing, jobs and more

William Seymour says band will soon have more autonomy

A lot of work is underway to assist members of Cowichan Tribes, according to Chief William Seymour.

Seymour said the band is currently working toward greater autonomy in jurisdictional and legislative matters that is intended to allow Cowichan Tribes to have more of a say in many of the band’s issues.

He said Cowichan Tribes is one of three First Nations in B.C. that was recently chosen by the province to begin a process of beginning to take over some of these responsibilities, and believes it will have a positive impact on band members.

“We are now having regular meetings with the province and the federal government, and we’re working together to see this happen,” he said.

“But several aspects of this process could take up to five years to complete.”

Seymour was responding to concerns that were raised at an attempted blockade of the band’s offices by some members of Cowichan Tribes in Duncan on Oct. 4.

RELATED STORY: BLOCKADE PLANNED FOR COWICHAN TRIBES’ BAND OFFICE

Sam Wilson, a spokesman for the couple of dozen band members who participated in the protest, had said there is a “serious failure of fiduciary duty” to Cowichan Tribes members by council, and they are living in a crisis situation as a result.

He said the protesters were demanding to see all the band’s financial statements.

Wilson also said there are concerns around children being seized from families, the issue that many land owners in the band are being pushed off their properties even though they have certificates of possession for the land, inadequate housing and ongoing unemployment among band members.

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

Seymour said the Child and Family Services department that operates on the reserve operates under governmental guidelines, but the band tries to ensure the children taken from homes are not sent far and wide.

“The safety of our children comes first and our first choice is to have them go to other family members,” he said.

“We are working with the families and applied for funding for more staff and resources to ensure that, unless the children are in serious danger in their homes, then they can stay there. We’re looking at changing some of these ministry policies when we are more in charge of our own legislative and jurisdictional issues. I can’t discuss the individual reasons why the children were taken from their homes because the files are confidential and I can’t discuss them.”

As for band members being pushed off their legally owned properties, Seymour said he knows of no such actions.

“We respect certificates of possession and I have no idea why that has come up as an issue,” he said.

Seymour said dealing with housing issues is a slow process, but work is ongoing.

He said the band has been meeting with banks regarding interest rates and other issues around band members.

“A lot of banks won’t give our members mortgages on reserve land because they can’t have the option of coming onto the reserve and take it away [in the event of a default], as they would outside the reserve,” he said.

“We’re looking at a number of different scenarios to deal with our housing issues, including building apartment buildings and townhouses, and we’re costing them out. One question is if we finance any of these projects through the banks, how long do we have to repay the loan? It has to come at a low cost.”

Seymour said another housing issue is the number of homes on the reserve that are boarded up due to mould issues.

He said Cowichan Tribes has recently come to an agreement with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in which the department agreed to pay 80 per cent of the costs of the mould removal and clean up of the homes.

“We’re hoping to have someone hired to assess these homes soon,” Seymour said.

As for unemployment issues, Seymour said the band does have a small department that assists members train for and find employment.

But he said it’s currently a one-person department when two or three people are needed to meet the band’s needs.

However, he pointed out a number of employment opportunities that band members have taken advantage of recently, including waste-energy projects, forestry work, and forest fire crews.

“We had nine crews working during the forest fire season this year, with each having up to eight people on a crew,” he said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Bay man’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

Threads N Tails owner Lee-Ann Burke’s pet clothing has been featured on the cover of the June/July issue of Pet Connection Magazine. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan business featured on magazine cover

Lee-Ann Burke hopes the extra publicity will increase sales

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Blue Moon Marquee from Duncan will be featured at the 2021 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 28. (Submitted)
Blue Moon Marquee to play Vancouver Jazz Festival

What’s coming up in the A&E scene

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read