Chief and Council of Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake Band) stand with Simpcw and call on the Province of B.C. to suspend planning with respect to the recently discovered cave in Wells Gray Park, until the two Secwepemc communities can meet with the Province, according to a recent release.
“The Tsq’escenemc are concerned that the Province’s recent awareness of the cave is being characterized as a ‘discovery’ – It is not new to us” stated Chief Helen Henderson, noting that the cave is located in Secwepemculecw, the territory Secwepemc people have called home for more than 10,000 years.
“We have names for the lakes and mountains and meadows of ‘Wells Grey Park’ that have marked those features for millennia.”
The Tsq’escen’ people commend the Parks Service for taking measures to protect and preserve this site as both First Nations and nature have done for so many years, the release states. However, it is time to be at the table to discuss further consultation, protection and co-management of the land.
“We hope this cave might serve as an example that British Columbia will only realize the full potential and protection of its wildlife, parks and natural areas by working in partnership with First Nations who hold vast knowledge of the land,” Henderson said.
Tsq’escen’ has also reached out to the Province requesting a meeting to discuss a collaborative approach in accordance with Secwepemc laws emphasizing that the park is located within the stewardship area of the Tsq’escen’ and Simpcw.
“Tsq’escen’ acknowledges that the Province of B.C. is making the effort to begin that process of strong government to government relationships. The response from the Province will provide evidence of their commitment to reconciliation and their adherence to the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Henderson.