On July 16, 2014, Metro Vancouver co-hosted a Community-to-Community forum with Katzie First Nation and local municipalities to “meet and greet” one another to strengthen relationships and increase understanding.
“This is a community-to-community forum and the object was to bring the two communities together,” explains Ralph Hildebrand, Metro Vancouver’s General Manager of Legal and Legislative Services. “We’ll have an opportunity to meet and talk to Katzie First Nation individuals one on one and we’re also going to have an opportunity to tell them a bit more about who Metro Vancouver is and tell them what we do.”
Debbie Miller is the Chief Negotiator for Katzie First Nation.
“I see value in bringing together the different municipal representatives as well as their senior staff,” says Miller. “Having Metro Vancouver there with all the information, I was surprised at how many people I saw coming back with information in their hands and sitting at the table. You know it’s dialogue, it’s coffee table conversations, and that brings out the real people.”
Ernie Daykin, Mayor of the District of Maple Ridge, is also Metro Vancouver’s Aboriginal Relations Committee chair. He sees parallels between Katzie First Nation and local government.
“We have a whole range of expertise that we can offer and Katzie is no different from Maple Ridge or Metro Vancouver. They want what’s absolutely best for their community whether it’s economic development, whether it’s housing, any number of things.”
“As a new chief I have never done a political role,” says Susan Miller, the Chief of Katzie First Nation. “So to look at Ernie and Deb, it’s really how we want to begin to model Katzie as a self government. The more we can have the example shared with us the stronger our presence becomes within our nation – to be able to govern in a true sense and to be true partners to the governments around us.”
“It is important for us to develop good working relationships,” says Hildebrand. “We have to get to know each other; our cultures, our differences, our backgrounds – in a way that will help us work together to common objectives and ends.”
“We forget that we have common ground so this kind of event just reminds us that even though we are not in a day to day relationship it is important to have a relationship,” notes Debbie Miller.
Daykin echoes Miller’s emphasis on the importance of good relations between communities.
“We live in one of the best regions in the world and we want to be all that we can be and relationships are key to achieving those results.”
“It’s a really nice get together and group of people who are really working together to solve one problem and that is to all live together on the same land,” says Barbara Steele, a City of Surrey Councillor.
Debbie Miller thinks success will arise from shared goals.
“Knowing each other and approaching and understanding that economic development isn’t just about a municipality, it isn’t just about a first nation. It’s saying together there are things that we can definitely achieve and say in this common goal we will both be better.”
For Susan Miller, it was an auspicious introduction to the process.
“I have never done a community to community forum before so once I heard the different speakers and I was able to share some of Katzie’s history, (I could) see the value of how we work together, how we are going to mesh over time. “I think it really shows the true partnership and the inspiring people we do get to work with.”