Remembering Squtxulenuhw William C. (Chip) Seymour

Honouring former Chief, watershed champion & mentor

Published On: February 21st, 2024

With respect, admiration, and heavy hearts, the POLIS team remembers Squtxulenuhw William C. (Chip) Seymour, who died last week. He served as Cowichan Tribes Councillor from 2005 to 2013 before being elected as chief and serving four terms in that role from 2013 until 2022. Chip Seymour grew up exploring the Cowichan watershed, the river, and its tributaries. As Chief, his primary focuses were education, employment, training, culture, housing, and working to re-establish a sense of hope among young people.

At POLIS, we always appreciated Chip Seymour’s leadership as Chief of Cowichan Tribes and as Co-Chair of the Cowichan Watershed Board, a role he held for many years. In these roles, he helped reinforce the importance of whole watershed thinking and collaborative approaches.

Koksilah interim agreement signing with Chip Seymour in the middle. Photo: Barry Hetschko

In 2014, POLIS and Cowichan Tribes co-hosted the three-day forum “Watersheds 2014: Towards Watershed Governance in British Columbia and Beyond” at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre. Chip Seymour was integral to this event, which he opened with a traditional Cowichan blanketing ceremony and teachings about how the Cowichan watershed has changed over thousands of years and the ways in which his community had recently been engaging with the local and provincial governments and the Cowichan Watershed Board to help the rivers, creeks, and lands become healthy again.

Chip Seymour also helped initiate the Xwulqw’selu watershed planning process, which led to the historic signing of the Xwulqw’selu Watershed Planning Agreement (S-xats-thut tst—We Agree) by Cowichan Tribes and the B.C. Government in 2023. With the signing of this Agreement, Cowichan Tribes and the provincial government are launching a historic multi-year watershed planning process, including work to develop (and then implement) the first Water Sustainability Plan in B.C.

A beautiful tribute to Chip Seymour was published in the Cowichan Valley Citizen, which we recommend reading.