The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is taking steps to improve relations with Indigenous communities in the area.
On May 17, the chair, chief administrative officer, manager of legislative services and communications coordinator met electronically with the Penticton Indian Band chief and executive assistant to discuss communications and engagement.
In a report to the regional district, Erick Thompson, communications coordinator with the regional district, said the intent is to have the same dialogue with the other three bands within the regional district, to better understand each band’s communications preferences.
The regional district staff have contacted the Osoyoos Indian Band, Lower Similkameen Indian Band and Upper Similkameen Indian Band.
Christy Malden, manager of legislative services at the regional district said staff will develop protocols for communications with Indigenous communities. She added that staff are interested in training in cultural training and Indigenous awareness training.
“The goal is to have some good, meaningful training before the board in the next little while,” she said.
Bill Newell, chief administrative officer of the regional district, said the protocol agreement has been dormant over the past four years, but there is a renewed interest in improving relations and communications.
Summerland coun. Doug Holmes said the municipality has held its own meetings with the Penticton Indian Band and has been discussing issues including signage within the municipality in the Syilx language, to recognize the band and the culture.
Malden said a comprehensive report on a communications policy with Indigenous communities is expected by the end of the year.
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