On Friday, September 30th, on the new moon, members of local government, community and faith organizations gathered together in the K’ómoks First Nation Band Hall. Around 300 people were present for the Community Witnessing Ceremony for the signing of the Comox Valley Critical Incident Response Protocol.
The Protocol is a powerful statement of diversity, community and acceptance. Members of organizations were invited to participate as signatories, affirming their support of the Protocol. Originally implemented by the Community Justice Centre in 2009, the Protocol was recently updated.
Over 100 signatories convened to sign and show their support of the updated Protocol. I was honored to be one of the signatories, representing the Circle of the Sacred Muse and the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Canada. The Protocol is very much in alignment with the principles of inclusiveness that the ATC-C encourages.
The evening featured speeches by Andrew Stringfellow, former President of the Community Justice Centre; The Hon. Iona Campgnolo, BC’s 27th Leuitenant Governor and Patron of the Community Justice Centre; and Chief Robert Everson, elected chief of the K’ómoks First Nation.
A new choral work was commissioned of Brian Tate for the evening, “Nakeestla”, and performed by the Coastal Voices Chamber Choir. Following the signing, the Kumugwe Dancers and select signatories participated in a Peace Dance.
The evening was an historic one, bringing together the unique diversity that makes up the Comox Valley and affirming the commitment to acceptance and welcoming in our community.
Comox Valley Critical Incident Response Protocol
We believe that it is desirable for all residents of the Comox Valley to enjoy the privileges of living within a free, welcoming, inclusive, and civil community; and
We believe that no resident or visitor to the Comox Valley ought to suffer from the effects of harassment, intimidation, threat, hateful actions, physical injury, damage to their property, or other forms of violence which are motivated by bias. This includes, but is not limited to, any bias based upon their race, religious belief or non-belief, cultural origin, ethnic origin, perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, economic status, disability status, or social status; and
We believe that it is the duty of all residents, acting individually and together, to strive for the achievement of a community in which we acknowledge our diversity by affirming our differences and welcoming the contributions that arise from each resident’s unique gifts; and
We believe that every resident has the right to experience the sense of belonging to this community that arises from our daily commitment to creating a better world.
As authorized representatives of the governments, agencies, and organizations named, we accept and agree to work towards the effective implementation of policies and practices within our respective governments, agencies, and organizations that recognize, affirm and encourage the inclusion of all; and we commit our governments, agencies and organizations to the implementation of the integrated responses to racist, homophobic and hate-based critical incidents which are the subject of this Protocol; and we encourage all residents and visitors to the Comox Valley to welcome and engage with each other in ways that incorporate the principles of inclusion, affirmation of difference, and broadening our understanding of one another so that these principles shall be evident in the ways in which we live and work together.