The Cowichan people, also known as the tribes of the Warm Land, live in a reserve area in the Cowichan Valley on the Vancouver Island.
Culture and Traditional Practices
The tribes occupied the region for thousands of years and were successful, to a large extent, in preserving their tradition, culture, heritage, art, and cultural and religious practices. Traditional crafts and practices include dancing, singing, canoe building, carving, and weaving.
Modern Realities and Income
The average annual income of Cowichan households is $20,000. About 75 percent are spent in the reserve area (locally). Given the below average income of many households, there are social assistance programs such as Social Development, which is tasked with administering funds for different target groups. Such target groups are, for example, children and women, students enrolled in Adult Basic and Adult Learning programs, and others. The agency is also responsible for guardian financial assistance and social assistance payments. The Individual Opportunities program also targets community members, and the main goal is to offer opportunities for community referral, employment counselling, workshops on different themes, as well as training and lifelong skill development. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to offer educational opportunities to help people get better chances of finding employment.
Grants, bursaries, and scholarships are also available, for example, the Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre Bursary, English Language Arts Scholarship, and Math/Science Scholarship, among others. The Math/Science Scholarship is offered to science and math students grades 8 to 10. Amounts vary from $100 to $300. Science and math students are welcome to apply for the Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre Student Bursary as well. A total of 10 bursaries are offered, each worth $100. The deadline for some bursaries and scholarships is in June while for others – in November.
Other Sources of Financing
Obvious sources of financing include standard products such as personal loans, mortgages, business loans, and business and personal credit cards. The Mold Program is yet another source of financing for First Nations people. Run as a home rehabilitation program in cooperation with the Bank of Montreal and Jacques Whitford, the goal is to offer assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation. Measures target abated homes and include activities such as sealing plumbing leaks, repairing exhaust systems, repairing foundation cracks, and more. Regular inspections are scheduled to ensure that reconstruction and repair works meet design and safely standards. The program is financed mainly by the Cowichan tribes (62 percent) and the government (38 percent). Another program offered by the Canadian government is the First Nations On-Reserve Housing program which provides funding to First Nation communities across Canada. Funding is available in all territories and provinces, the only exception being British Columbia. Annual funding allocation is available, meaning that there is no need to apply. Other programs run by the government include the Income Assistance Program, ministerial loan guarantees, and the BC Housing Subsidy Program. Ministerial loan guarantees are used to help obtain loans for the purpose of renovating, purchasing, and building housing on reserves. The Income Assistance Program targets on-reserve individuals to help them meet basic expenses such as rent, utilities, clothing, and food. There are certain exclusions such as furniture, fashionable clothing, and other things that are not considered basic needs.