Lake Cowichan First Nation’s members and Chief Cyril Livingstone

Lake Cowichan First Nation’s members and Chief Cyril Livingstone

More Native presence requested in town

Features lacking: Lake Cowichan council considering what ways it can better recognize local First Nations heritage

Lake Cowichan council has been told the town requires more references to First Nations.

Councillor Jayne Ingram recently received a letter from Ron Hamilton asking for more recognition throughout town of Lake Cowichan’s native heritage.

“(Ron) was with Chief (Cyril) Livingston (from Lake Cowichan First Nations) the day I met him in the Shaker Mill Restaurant, and observed that there is no feature in our community with a reference or a First Nations name,” said Ingram in an email. “(He) wanted to share that with our council in hopes that we may change that. I was only too pleased to bring this forth to my colleagues.”

Ingram presented the letter to council at a December Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee meeting at town hall.

“It’s a good point,” she said at the meeting. “We don’t have anything in our community that marks our First Nations territory.”

Councillor Tim McGonigle proposed the idea of renaming Indian Road but Mayor Ross Forrest wasn’t buying it.

“It’s a great idea but there’s complications with changing the name of a road,” said the mayor. “People would need to change addresses and it’s costly. We don’t have any extra money to throw at it. It’d be a big inconvenience.”

Chief administrator Joe Fernandez confirmed the re-naming of a road would have to be done with the blessing of and with the co-operation of the Ministry of Transportation.

Nevertheless, Forrest is hopeful of naming a newly built road with First Nations reference sometime in the future.

“As we move forward and build new roads, this will take first consideration,” he said.

Ingram was on the same wavelength as Forrest.

“I agree with the mayor. We can’t go around re-naming old streets,” she said.

Ronnie Gill, director of finance, said “there should be more thought put into it and more co-operation with First Nations.”

The receiving of the letter was timely as council had met with Lake Cowichan First Nation the night prior.

“It was more of a networking session to gain trust rather than an official meeting,” said McGonigle. “I thought it was great.”