RDBN hires new First Nations liaison

Taddea Kunkel makes introduction to VBL council; role is to foster relationships with first nations

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) has hired Taddea Kunkel as their new First Nations Liaison, who attended an Oct. 26 Village of Burns Lake (VBL) council meeting to introduce herself to council.

Kunkel has a BA in international relations from the University of B.C., and recently completed her masters degree in public policy and administration from Carlton University in Ottawa.

Prior to joining the RDBN, Kunkel was the forestry initiatives coordinator and grant writer for the city of Quesnel, and she also completed a co-op term as a student research assistant at Natural Resources Canada as Indigenous affairs and reconciliation secretary.

Kunkel’s position is funded in part by the Northern Development Initiatives Trust’s northern healthy communities fund for first nation engagement capacity building project. The over-arching goal of her position is to foster and strengthen regional relationships with First Nation communities and government.

This includes building capacity so that the RDBN can engage at treaty negotiations and provide meaningful insight, as well as building relationships with first nations communities to empower the RDBN as well as member municipalities such as Houston on engagement and collaboration. This essentially means identifying areas for potential projects and collaboration between government and first nation groups.

Another key aspect of Kunkel’s role is to internally advance the Province of B.C.’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and Action Plan in the region.

During the council meeting, Mayor Dolores Funk seemed excited about the potential of the VBL working with Kunkel.

“It’s very exciting for someone to come in with the ability to build that capacity with the regional district level. As a municipality, we’re very keen to grow and learn in our ability to speak into the agreements that are taking place in our area, and to identify areas for collaboration, so I’m wondering if you see any opportunities at this time that the VBL can move forward with collaborative endeavors with local First Nations?” Funk asked Kunkel.

“Currently with COVID-19 impacting a lot of first nations communities, it has made it harder to set up introductory meetings and have those types of conversations with chiefs and councils as well as staffs of First Nations, so right now I’m in the process of building those relationships. I will be reaching out to all the member municipalities of the RDBN in the near future to correlate what type of service agreements are existing with first nations. Hopefully when the fourth wave of COVID-19 goes down, I can begin creating more contacts within these communities to look for opportunities for municipalities like yourselves,” Kunkel replied.

READ MORE: New governance over Nechako River part of MOU between regional district, First Nations

READ MORE: Village of Burns Lake acknowledges Truth and Reconciliation day

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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