FVRD and Sts’ailes sign memorandum of understanding

March 18, 2015

The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and Sts’ ailes will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Intergovernmental Relations Protocol (IRP) agreement on March 19, 2015. The Signing Ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at Sts’ailes Lhawathet Lalem, 14300 Morris Valley Road, Agassiz.

In March 2013, Sts’ailes proposed the development of an MOU and IRP through discussions with the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Relations Committee. The FVRD and Sts’ailes have been developing relationships over the last few years on a range of issues but on an informal basis. The proposed MOU and IRP will strengthen and formalize these relationships.

With support from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ Regional Community to Community (C2C) Forum Program, the FVRD and Sts’ailes met in 2013 to set the groundwork for the MOU and IRP. The event provided FVRD board members with an opportunity to learn about Sts’ailes first hand in terms of current and future aspirations, and also of the rich cultural history that spoke of the generations that have lived in this unique environment. The forum consisted of a tour of the Sts’ailes community and a cultural tour on the Harrison River, where participants learned of the social, cultural and spiritual history of the area.

Chief Harvey Paul, Sts’ailes says: “Sts'ailes Traditional Territory comprises about one quarter of the 12,000 km² Fraser Valley Regional District. It is important that we work together. We invited FVRD representatives on a cultural tour of our territory where we shared archaeological information on our old villages and sacred sites; we shared the teachings and stories that were handed down from our ancestors. This sharing of knowledge enables FVRD to gain a better understanding of what the land and culture mean to Sts’ailes. The MOU is our commitment to work closely with the FVRD to develop an Intergovernmental Relations Protocol. Its purpose is to establish relationships and clear expectations for collaboration on issues that are of mutual interest including land use, waste management, economic development, run of the river projects, transportation, recreation sites, emergency preparedness, Regional Growth Strategy, and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).”

Sharon Gaetz, Chair of the FVRD says, “One of the key strategic goals of the FVRD is to develop collaborative partnerships with our neighbours. The MOU with Sts'ailes is a significant step toward ensuring the positive and healthy growth and development of our region. I look forward to continuing to work with Chief Paul and Sts’ailes on a broad range of initiatives that will set the course for the future.”

With funding provided through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), the goal of Regional Community to Community Forums is to increase understanding and improve overall relations between First Nations and local governments, advanced by tangible outcomes. Forum events are intended to provide a time and place for dialogue to build on opportunities for collaboration, and resolve issues of common responsibility or interest.