Tribes members asked to talk finances

Cowichan Tribes is calling on its community members to help shape its economic future.

A finance meeting slated for Oct. 19 will report on the status of Cowichan’s economic health, and encourage input from citizens.

“This is an economic development information and engagement meeting for Cowichan members,” Cowichan Tribes Chief Lydia Hwitsum explained. “We will look at the past year and work toward a longer-term Cowichan economic development strategy.”

There have been a number of concerns voiced by The yul shun um Mustimuhw group of Cowichan citizens following an audit meeting in July.

Group spokeswoman Shelly Thorne pointed out while Cowichan is generating millions of dollars in own-source revenue, it’s being used to pay down the band’s debt, rather than supporting community programs and services.

She’d also like to see most investment in potential revenue-generators, such as the Quw’utsun Cultural & Conference Centre.

“That business should be making money,” she said. “There’s a whole array of things that could be done.”

Ideas like these will be welcome at Wednesday’s meeting.

“It is important to hear the concerns of Cowichan citizens,” Hwitsum said. “This meeting is an opportunity to raise and address concerns. Cowichan will work toward a stronger economic development strategy.”

Cowichan continues to work through structural changes to its economic arm, the KDC, as advised by consultant Neil Sterritt a little less than two years ago.

“Things are getting worse,” worried Thorne. “(Hwitsum) knew this two years ago, yet now she decides to go to the community and ask what we think?”

The meeting, which is open to Cowichan Tribes members, happens Oct. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural Centre’s Comeakin Room.

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