The year 2012 was a year of strengthening ties and renewing commitments for the Town of Ladysmith and the Stz’uminus First Nation.
In May, the Stz’uminus First Nation and Town of Ladysmith strengthened their commitment to working together with the signing of a renewed Community Accord. The signing took place during the opening ceremonies of the new Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina Reception Centre on May 25.
Mayor Rob Hutchins said the updated accord, titled Naut’sa Mawt [Working Together], contains a new article of implementation calling for specific action.
It outlines specific steps for how to work together on joint initiatives and form economic partnerships that will generate wealth and secure employment within both communities.
“What is different about this accord than the first one we signed in 2007 is it is far less tentative … It speaks to a stronger commitment to work together,” said Hutchins. “It speaks to a growing mutual respect and a growing level of trust, and I choose those words carefully, because we’re not quite there yet. The healing is not complete.”
By the time the accord was signed, both communities had completed frameworks for a working protocol and memorandum of understanding (MOU).
“This accord is something that we take seriously, and we’re going to work together to make sure we work together to make a difference in everybody’s lives, on this side and the other side of the water,” said Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott.
In early July, the Town of Ladysmith and the Stz’uminus First Nation took another step forward by signing a Co-operation Protocol. The two communities signed the protocol July 3, and its purpose is “to continue to develop the co-operative relationship that exists between the communities and form an agreement to pursue initiatives of common interest.”
The objectives of the Co-operation Protocol are to establish an effective government-to-government working relationship between the communities and other agencies, promote efficiency and effectiveness in the working relationship between the communities, establish an ongoing policy-level and technical-level dialogue, establish information-sharing and co-operative planning processes, establish a consultation process, and help the communities secure the financial resources necessary to support their participation in this protocol and the projects they undertake.
Coun. Steve Arnett noted that this protocol is “historic,” and he thanked Hutchins for his leadership.
“This is truly a joint leadership, and my hat goes off to the chief and council of the Stz’uminus First Nation,” replied Hutchins. “We have accomplished more in the last year and particularly within the last six months, I think, than we had accomplished in decades before.”
In late August, ties were further strengthened when the federal government announced $1.4 million in funding to extend water and sewage services from Ladysmith to Stz’uminus lands around the Ivy Green Husky gas station. Once those services are in place, Stz’uminus will be able to develop the 25-hectare Four Corners site for commercial, professional and retail buildings.
The theme of working together and joining forces for economic development was highlighted in late March when the Stz’uminus First Nation and the Coast Salish Development Corporation hosted an inaugural Power in Numbers Gathering to explore and encourage opportunities for partnership and revenue sharing with industry and First Nations.