Toward Reconciliation: Wuikinuxv Member Frank Johnson appointed to CCRD

The CCRD Board of Directors appointed Wuikinuxv member Frank Johnson to the vacant Electoral Area A Director position

The Central Coast Regional District Board of Directors appointed Wuikinuxv member Frank Johnson to the vacant Electoral Area A Director position during a regular meeting of the Board held on Thursday October 20, 2016.  This appointment follows the resignation in June 2016 of Area A Director Cathi McCullagh, and a subsequent by-election in which no candidates were declared.

“For the first time in the history of the region the CCRD has a board that includes a member from each of the Nuxalk, Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv Nations, within whose traditional territories CCRD operates,” said CCRD Chair Alison Sayers.

The appointment demonstrates the Central Coast Regional District’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s ‘Calls to Action’, particularly item 43 that asks “federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.”

“In keeping with the Local Government Act, we were obligated to make a discretionary decision in the appointment of the vacant Electoral Area A Director position,” Sayers explained. “After careful consideration of the continued impacts of colonial displacement of the First Nation governments of British Columbia, we chose to provide a direct voice to Wuikinuxv peoples, who have never had a seat at the CCRD table before.”

Article 23 of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development…”. Article 26 speaks to Indigenous peoples’ right to possession, use, development and control of their traditional territories, as well as states’ obligations toward legal recognition and protection of those territories and resources all while respecting Indigenous customary and legal traditions.

“We know CCRD can’t single-handedly redress the dispossession of Wuikinuxv, Heiltsuk and Nuxalk peoples of governance over their lands, territories and resources. However, we hope that with the appointment of Frank Johnson and the now historic composition of the current CCRD Board of Directors we are at least moving in the right direction,” Sayers maintains. “This is about acknowledging the jurisdictional complexity we have to work with here at the community level. It is our hope that implementing this important aspect of reconciliation will help us move forward together in a concrete and real way.”

“While Canada and British Columbia have a long way to go toward reconciling with Nuxalk, I am optimistic about the potential for our local communities to collaborate in a way that has never been done before,” said Electoral Area D Director and Nuxalk member Richard Hall. “For now, we can all focus on putting our strengths together where we can agree here at the local level and see what can be done.”

“Yau All.  I thank the directors for their vote of trust and confidence in me. Change is good knowing that truth and reconciliation is at the forefront of our task at hand. Everything happens for a reason,” said Frank Johnson. “I am elated about this appointment, knowing that I have an opportunity to look after all the people of the Central Coast. Gianakaci. Thank you.”

The Central Coast Regional District Board is composed of five directors. Four of the five directors are First Nation from each of the Wuikinuxv (Area A), Heiltsuk (Area B) and Nuxalk (Area D and E) Nations. As past elected Chief of the Wuikinuxv Nation, Frank Johnson brings over 35 years of governance, administrative and political experience as well as many local, national and international governance connections to the CCRD table. His appointment will stand until the next local government election in October 2018.