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Okanagan Nation Alliance calls on George Abbott to address aboriginal land title issues

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | 6:26 pm

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By Kathy Michaels

It’s time for the provincial government to step up and deal with aboriginal land title issues, or they should get used to the sight of blockades, says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

“There are a number of pending mining and pipeline projects in B.C. and the same thing is going to happen with them, as is happening at Browns Creek, unless the government gets cracking on unresolved aboriginal land issues ,” said Phillip.

By his estimates, the province has yet to engage members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance in any meaningful conversation about the issues that prompted them to blockade Tolko from the cutblock near Vernon, and leaving these matters to the courts and RCMP isn’t right.

“The treaty process isn’t working, so they’re going to have to engage this issue, stop side stepping and ignoring it, and hoping somehow the courts will deal with it,” he said. “Otherwise we will deal with it cutblock by cutblock, mining proposal by mining proposal, pipeline project by pipeline project.”

That’s a far costlier way to do business. While it’s a contested statement, Tolko has said the blockade has forced them to stop business at their Armstrong plant. The two parties have also taken up hours of court time working through their dispute, while Stewart points out it should be BC Aboriginal Relations Minister George Abbott and Canada’s Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl who come to the table.

With those parties involved, and Tolko is standing down due to weather conditions, Phillip believes it’s an ideal time to work out an integrated resource management plan that would address concerns around logging, wildlife and the watershed.

Chief Fabian Alexis has said the issues around the watershed will continue on, until a plan is in place.

“I do wish to make it clear to all concerned parties that our community is simply not going to allow that watershed to be commercially logged,” he said. “The Crown, thus has the choice of placing up to 1,800 members of our community in jail or more sensibly and much less expensively, to re-establish protection of that watershed and afford Tolko some measure of compensation for their loss.”

Underlying the whole issue, he said, is that the province created this conflict by taking the watershed that supplies our community’s watershed that supplies the community’s drinking water and selling it off as a Tree Farm License in the 1960s.  They also noted that concerns about the viability of trees in the are overstated.

The Browns Creek area contains a significant amount of living Spruce trees, and due to clear cut logging and pine beetle kill, there are very few remaining areas where there is such a substantial cache of old growth trees.

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10 Responses to “Okanagan Nation Alliance calls on George Abbott to address aboriginal land title issues”

  1. grumpydigger says:
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    we should be getting used to, the RCMP arresting people that illegally blockaded roads and disobey Supreme Court orders…….

    just make it easy on everyone, tell the government how much money it will take to buy you off ………. this time……

  2. time for change says:
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    Maybe these people need to get a job like the rest of us.
    looks like to much spare time?

  3. Al says:
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    The more things change the more things remain the same. Give each Aborignal the right to fish , hunt and gather as much as they want for eternity. Provide every aborignal man, women and child a $1.0 million and thats the finality.

    But then what would poor leaders like Philips do if he could not continue to cry fowl and collect the bands money to his live style and corruption. Maybe he could get a job….now that would be novel.

    YOU FOLKS JUST NEED TO GET OVER IT……

  4. sandy says:
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    Typical comments that wreak of a total lack of knowledge to the issues. The government of British Columbia has created the problem First Nation’s communities face regarding land claim issues. The government of Canada has basically turned a blind eye to this. There are laws in place that apply to the settlement of land claim issues which are applicable TODAY!

    Research the issues before you beak off and show how little you know. I dare you to look past your strongly held stereotypical beliefs and consider there just might be some legitimacy in these arguments.

    ps. Please stop with the “Get a job like the rest of us” racist mentality!

  5. Al says:
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    Sandy…..you need to research the issues. I won’t even try to explain the background I have with the issues but suffice to say it is extensive. The courts are pandering liberals…they are not mainstreet Canada’s view of the First Nations and no mainstreet is not bias. It is time to forget the past …this country was settled by Europeans and it’s time to quite asking for handouts to correct the wrong doings that our forefathers did to your forefathers.

    First Nations as communities have no more right to Crown land or it’s resources than any other segment of our society…There are environmental laws in place to protect watersheds…while not perfect they exist. It’s time for the First Nations to look outward…an example is the Osoyoos Band. They recognize the 21st century and are striving to make the lives and wellbeing of their people better by work not blockades. Blockades haven’t and will not work. It is no surprize that senior governments have not addressed your outrageousness….they are being politically correct but if they had the interests of Canada in prespective they would but these protestors in jail for breaking the law each and every time until YOU GET IT…your past way of life is over so start to become part of the solution not the ongoing problem.

  6. Say What ? says:
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    Hey Al

    The tone and basis of your position is not so thinly disguised racism. Land claims in B.C. were “settled” at the point of a gun, by government supplied alcoholism, family break-ups through abusive religion, and European diseases.
    The settlement “process” costs the governments more in legal fees and stalling than what a settlement would cost,(but it does employ lawyers, politicians, and government employees. So don’t talk like you know anything about the treaty process- you do not.
    The real question is- what will Tolko gain by lying about their wood supply (the Armstrong mill is full of logs- yet they claim they cannot run because they are out of logs)! The province is mired in unsaleable bug-killed pine, so why is Brown Creek so necessary ? Maybe it’s not the OIB, maybe someone else is looking for a big government payday, on the pretext of a fight with the OIB.
    It costs the provincial government $600 million to run the forest service in exchange for $350 million in stumpage, so are you going to try to tell me that standing timber in Brown has any value at all ??
    Something, my friend, is rotten in Denmark.

  7. Al says:
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    I’ve forgotten more about the modern day treat process than you know…senior levels of government don’t want to engage because they are fully aware of the consequences. Let me reassure you I am not a racist in any sense of the word. What I am is sick and tried of the First Nations of this country telling me this is their land….On the contrary, while it may have been settled, not taken, in a way that we find unacceptable today the fact remains it was occupied, not unlike in historical terms the Roman, Ottoman, or Spanish Empires were in the past. We owe niothing to the First Nation and yes it has been costly but it has also been their economy. That is why I believe to settle this matter given each of them $1.0 million and say we are sorry for the hundred time but it is now over. Give them special rights to hunt, fish and gather the impact this will have laughable as most wouldn’t know a berry from a cherry or a salmon from a kokanee.

  8. sandy says:
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    Ahh, just love your condescending tone Al. As a matter of fact I have researched this topic extensively and suspect your knowledge is based on government accounts and websites and possibly school history textbooks…

    As for the Osoyoos Indian Band…if faced with the same issue as OKIB is with regards to its watershed and the courst response, you can be darned sure their response would be the same!

  9. Al says:
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    Sandy………..please get a grip on the issues because quite frankly until you are on the inside you and others haven’t a clue about the internal thinking….enough said!!

  10. sandy says:
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    Heh Al, it’s obvious from which “inside” you are referring to…the Eurocentric chauvanistic, upper middle-classed priveleged.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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