First Nations say direct action likely

Okanagan, Shuswap and other nations calling for province to recognize title to the land

Interior First Nations suggest the economy could be disrupted if their rights aren’t recognized.

The Interior Alliance, which consists of four nations, including the Okanagan and Shuswap, issued a release Wednesday, stating that economic certainty will only be achieved through acceptance of inherent title to the land by government and industry.

“We are prepared to take direct action to protect our traditional lands from ongoing exploitation without our consent,” states the press release.

“We anticipate that such direct action would disrupt the provincial economy as well as the global economy until such time as title and rights are implemented and we are treated fairly, including, being engaged in meaningful land and resource management regimes, based on our traditional laws of the land.”

When contacted, Wayne Christian, alliance spokesperson and Splatsin chief, would not elaborate on how direct action could proceed.

“There’s a lot of things that could potentially happen,” he said, adding that it may not include physical action such as road closures.

“There is a spectrum of whole processes we could use such as educating the public. It’s not just inside Canada, but also outside Canada.”

The Interior Alliance will meet Oct. 8 and 9 to discuss potential next steps.

“We will be very transparent about what we do,” said Christian.

Native leaders from across B.C. met with Premier Christy Clark and the provincial cabinet in Vancouver this week.

“It’s the same song and dance and nothing has changed,” said Christian of the government’s response to First Nations insisting they have not ceded or surrendered their land.

“There has to be a substantive shift. The government and the bureaucracy treats us as if we don’t exist.”

While not at the meetings in Vancouver, Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster is aware of the release issued by the alliance.

“We certainly take the issue seriously,” he said.

However, Foster stands behind the provincial government’s role with First Nations.

“We’ve made an effort to consult and there are good revenue sharing agreements (with some First Nations) with oil, gas and forestry. We will continue to consult.”

Foster believes the alliance’s release may be related to a 2014 decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the Tsilhqot’in Nation in the Chilcotin has title to its traditional lands.

“The decision has been made and everyone has to live with it and within it. We need to continue dialogue and hopefully we can come to a point where there is agreement,” he said.

 

 

Vernon Morning Star

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