Ucluelet First Nation opens treaty office in Port Alberni

Ha-Shilth-Sa, September 13, 2007

Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae and Chief Councillor Vi Mundy cut the ribbon officially opening the Ucluelet First Nation Satellite Treaty Office.

Port Alberni — 

Ucluelet First Nation (UFN) members living in Port Alberni now have a more convenient location to receive treaty updates and other information thanks to their leadership who have opened a satellite office conveniently located in the heart of down town.

 Chief Councilor Vi Mundy said there are more than 70 UFN families living in the Alberni Valley and many find it difficult to get to Ittattsoo for meetings and updates.

 Getting information to their membership is extremely important given the fact that the treaty ratification vote is scheduled to take place in a few short weeks.

 “People here are very excited,” said Mundy, “they can come here to talk to us directly and I will be here at least once a month to talk to the people.”

 The new office, located at 3075 Third Avenue, has a reception area; the walls covered with posters and flip chart sheets showing common questions and answers about the Maa-nulth treaty.

Treaty Communications Worker Richard Mundy Jr. will work out of the satellite office while members of UFN’s council will attend the office at least once a week to connect with membership.  

 “Do we have to repay the loan?” is one of the questions. The answer: yes, there is a schedule of repayment.

 Another question was about taxation on reserve once the treaty is implemented. Treaty Negotiator Robert Joseph described a complex scenario where all members will be required to pay transaction taxes, which are the PST and GST.

 A larger portion of the GST will go back to the UFN because most of the services provided to them by the federal government will transfer to the band. But the provincial government will keep a larger portion of the PST so that UFN members can continue to access public services like health, education, highways, etc.

 The portion of taxes that UFN collects will go to the provision and delivery of services and other community needs.

 UFN members visiting the office may also pick up thick treaty information packages, containing the treaty itself written in easy-to-understand language.

 Treaty Communications Worker Richard Mundy Jr. will work out of the satellite office while members of UFN’s council will attend the office at least once a week to connect with membership.

 The office held its grand opening September 3 with Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae on hand to help cut the ribbon. UFN elder Johnny McCarthy said a prayer chant at the entrance to the building where guests gathered around on the sidewalk.

 Vi Mundy said it was the first time council has reached this far to connect with their members living away from home. She was grateful for Mayor McRae’s presence there, saying she was happy that he comes to such events, continuing to build positive relationships.

 The mayor said he was not only there on behalf of the city of Port Alberni, but also on behalf of the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District. He offered his congratulations and presented a commemorative plaque to Mundy saying, “together we can make this community thrive.”

 Guests were invited indoors for lunch following the cutting of the cedar bark ribbon.

 Mundy said the satellite office is another step toward open communication with UFN members. “People from here can’t afford to go home for meetings,” she explained. Over time, some UFN members have lost touch with home. “Some members have been away for so long that their children don’t know where their home is and it’s those people we hope to reach.”

 The site will mainly be used to get treaty information to the people but will also operate on an open door policy. Members are welcome to drop in, even if its just for a cup of coffee.

 The office is open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Mundy’s message to her people is, “we look forward to seeing you there!”

By Denise Titian