The Municipality of North Cowichan wants First Nations to have better access to council. (File photo)

The Municipality of North Cowichan wants First Nations to have better access to council. (File photo)

North Cowichan looks to equal rights for First Nations

Municipality wants First natives treated like other governments

The Municipality of North Cowichan wants more discussions about First Nations submissions to be behind closed doors.

The municipality will ask the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to support a resolution that will amend the Community Charter at the upcoming UBCM convention.

The amendment calls on the provincial government to accord First Nations the same status as provincial and federal governments when it comes to “in camera” or closed council meetings.

There is currently limited authority to close council meetings to the public to consider information received from First Nations.

June 21 was National Aboriginal Day, and council thought it a fitting time to start this process.

“We think this is a very reasonable and respectful change to make,” says Jon Lefebure, Mayor of North Cowichan.

“This small amendment to the Community Charter will treat First Nations governments equal to provincial and federal governments when it comes to handling their confidential information, and will allow us to better address First Nations concerns, promote trust and improve relations.”

William Seymour, chief of Cowichan Tribes, said providing First Nations governments equal rights to closed meetings when dealing with local governments will help build trust and potentially lead to growth opportunities for economic development.

“We are currently challenged to meet with local governments, or to share details with them that may involve personal or sensitive business information,” he said.

“At times, this hinders our ability to partner.”