Land Code vote to be held for Cowichan Tribes in September

Chief William Seymour said it will allow Cowichan Tribes to get out from under the grip of Indian Affairs and put them in charge of their own economic development.

Right now, Seymour said when a business approaches a member of Tribes about leasing a piece of land the member has to get permission from Indian Affairs to lease their land but that can take more than five years and members are losing out.

“They are walking away because it’s taking Indian Affairs five-plus years to approve anything and no business is going to wait that long and I see our members losing out on income from leasing ability.”

Robert Louie, chair of the Lands Advisory Board said a land code offers immense opportunities for First Nations.

“Number one, if a community wishes to be recognized as a government of the lands, wishes to not have their hands held by the Department of Indian Affairs or the Federal government then this is something that needs to be considered. What a land code will do for a community is to recognize their inherent right of that First Nation to be the decision maker.”

There are 633 First Nations across Canada and one-third of them are operating under land code.

On Vancouver Island, there are 13 First Nations operating with land code including the Chemainus First Nation who went that route in 2014 and that’s the first phase of development you see at Oyster Bay that includes a hotel, First Nation Health Authority and Ladysmith Credit Union.

The last time Cowichan Tribes had a land code vote was in June of 2017 and it didn’t pass, however, the way it was set up it required 51 per cent of all Tribes members to vote and that didn’t happen.

This time around, it will only require 51 per cent of those who vote to approve the land code.