The Cowichan Lake district is in mourning following the sudden death of Cyril Livingstone, hereditary chief of the Lake Cowichan First Nation. Livingstone died of natural causes on May 17.
“He will be sadly missed by all,” the LCFN stated in an announcement prior to Livingstone’s funeral.
“He was very personable and highly respected by many which, combined with his other characteristics, led to him being a true role model.”
Livingstone had served for 38 years as LCFN chief, and dedicated much of his time and authority as chief to providing homes, employment and other services to his community and family.
“Cyril loved spending time with his family and could always be found telling stories, jokes, listening to music, singing, dancing or laughing heartily; especially with his grandchildren, whom he cherished,” the statement read.
“He was an avid hunter and fisherman for all of his life as he learned how to live off of the land at a very young age.”
Livingstone was also an accomplished log burler, winning several regional championships.
He worked for Western Forest Industries for 14 years, and most enjoyed his time as a tug boat operator.
In recent years, Livingstone could frequently be found playing pool at James Street Billiards in Duncan, where he formed many close friendships.
In a recent episode of Our Community Cares, Radio Cowichan station director Mike Bishop interviewed Livingstone on camera about the recent protocol agreement signed between the LCFN and the Cowichan Valley Regional district.
In the video, available on Radio Cowichan’s Facebook page, Livingstone expresses pride in the way the local First Nation has worked constructively with the Town of Lake Cowichan and now the regional district.
“It just goes to show that working together and working as one, we can accomplish things,” he said. “I take pride and honour in working with everybody.”
During Heritage Days three years ago, Livingstone signed a protocol agreement with the Town of Lake Cowichan on behalf of the LCFN, which aimed to establish a new and ongoing relationship between the communities, founded on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.
This was also the underpinning of the protocol agreement signed with the CVRD on April 29 of this year.
In their conversation, Bishop and Livingstone also discussed the significance of the totem pole erected in Lake Cowichan’s Ts’uubaa-asatx Square. Livingstone said it means “we are one big happy family.”
Mayor Ross Forrest described Livingstone’s death as a great loss for the Lake.
“I’ve known Cyril probably for 50 years, since we were kids. He really did like this community and he was a great steward for this community. He truly cared for the environment and he wanted to make this community a better place for his grandkids,” said Forrest.
“I think he had a very quiet influence, the way he did stuff. When Cyril would speak at a meeting or a function, he didn’t say a lot but he had a clear, simple message.”
Area F director Ian Morrison also spoke of Livingstone’s influence.
“Cyril’s leadership created a level of influence far greater than one would expect from a nation of Lake Cowichan’s size. That is a testament to Cyril’s commitment to his people and the skilled people he brought in to work and serve in his community,” he said.
Morrison reflected on his first opportunity to share a stage with Livingstone — at the grand re-opening of the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena — and said Livingstone’s blessing and kind words have stayed with him to this day.
“While Chief Livingstone may have been of small stature — he stood tall in they eyes of his nation and the wider community of Cowichan Lake and the broader Cowichan Valley region,” said Morrison.