Member Stories – Cowichan Tribes

Cowichan Image

Cowichan Tribes became a member of the ICI Society in 2010. Known as “The People of the Warm Land”, they are 5,000+ members strong and are the largest single First Nation Band in British Columbia. About half of the population lives on-reserve with a large percentage of the population under the age of 35.

The ‘Warm Land’ is the name given to the Cowichan Valley region of Vancouver Island. The total reserve area is approximately 2,400 hectares (5,900 acres) and is comprised of nine reserves and seven main traditional villages.

Cowichan Tribes primary goal is to improve the health, safety and quality of life of community members through providing a variety of essential services.

GIS services fall under the Lulumexun (Lands & Governance) Department, and it is managed by Larry George. In her role as GIS Technician, Brenda Underwood offers GIS services utilized by a number of departments and agents. GIS is a useful planning tool for various projects generally requiring overlay analysis, database queries, digital map products and identifying and archiving legacy systems.

Brenda started working with Cowichan Tribes in 2007. Having a full-time GIS Technician made it possible for applications to be continually developed in-house. Activities of the GIS Technician were primarily to assist with resolving land and resource management concerns on a variety of projects. Over the last few years a few of GIS projects needing to be resolved included:

  • Future Land Use Potential (LUP) Mapping – working with EcoPlan International in completing the LUP mapping part of the project as part of the Proposed Land Use Framework. (click on images for full view)

LUP Mapping

  • Infrastructure Mapping – working with Land Administration, Operations & Maintenance, Housing and Capital Projects Staff and their Agents in efforts to improve sewer and water services. (click on images for full view)

Infrastructure Mapping

  • Cowichan Tribes road atlas mapping – GIS is being employed to update reserve addresses into a database that feeds directly into the 911 emergency system and Cowichan Tribes road atlas. (click on images for full view)

CT Road Atlas Mapping

To help resolve these issues, ICF data from the ICI Society overlaid with cadastral fabric clearly illustrated Cowichan Tribes reserves along with other local jurisdictions.  The addition of utility data to facilitate planning for infrastructure services and the increased ability of Cowichan Tribes to share data with other Local Governments are some of the immediate benefits of the use of ICI Society data and GIS.

“GIS is a modern day technology that we will continue to use at Cowichan Tribes to improve many aspects of our operations; perhaps the most important use of this technology is to provide maps and data in support of planning projects and developments occurring on-reserve,” states Brenda Underwood.

Brenda recognizes the value of shared data as “the ICI Society provides valuable information to its members. The Society enables members to access data that can be visualized and easily downloaded.”

Cowichan Tribes membership in the ICI Society creates considerable efficiencies by minimizing the need to hunt for data. Membership provides access to required data and eliminates the task of maintaining multiple data-sharing agreements.

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