The City of New Westminster’s commitment to engagement with the First Nations is two-fold: regulated engagement in the form of consultation, and relationship-based engagement with the goal of partnership and co-governance.
The City fulfills its legal obligation to consult with local First Nations on City developments and activities by connecting as early as possible in the planning phases, and conducting ongoing audits of internal processes to ensure consultation practices are efficient, effective, and mutually beneficial.
Forging supportive and effective partnerships with the First Nations is a lifelong process enabled through building trust, respectful engagement, and active listening.
Overview of Regulated Engagement Actions
During the period from 2018 to 2021, the City of New Westminster began to openly engage with multiple Nations around projects within our regulatory control. These largely center on consultation around OCP bylaw amendments. Nations are identified through both the Provincial Consultative Areas Database and Port of Vancouver consultation list. Additionally, at this time the City began communicating with First Nations to seek their active involvement in the development of City strategies and plans that may eventually require senior government funding or permitting. The City is legally responsible to consult with local First Nations on City developments and activities as early in the planning phases as possible. The City continues to audit internal processes for the purposes of developing consultation practices that are efficient, effective, and mutually beneficial.
Examples of regulated engagements include: various amendments; advising developers of requirement to consult; seeking First Nation participation in Reforestation, Flood Mitigation and Hume Park Master Planning, Biodiversity, and Community Energy and Emissions Plan strategies.
Overview of Relationship-Based Engagement Actions
During 2018-2021 the City began more overtly expressing intent to reach out to neighbouring Nations to better understand their connections to the New Westminster area; this was a measured approach to understanding the intersecting interests of all Nations by requesting to meet with them at a leadership level in the hopes of strengthening relationships.
Examples of relationship-based engagements include: motion approval to include First Nation representation on civic committees; meeting requests sent to 10 identified Nations; Council to Council meetings and Mayor to Chief meetings with several First Nations; and signed Sister Community agreement with the Tsilhqot’in.
On October 15, 2020, the City of New Westminster entered into a Sister Community Agreement with the Tŝilhqot'in National Government. This historic occasion was the culmination of several years of work building friendship and trust between our communities. The agreement marks a starting point for a new future of goodwill, reconciliation and understanding between us. The following video documents the proceedings of the day.