A group demanding the surrender of empty school buildings in the Cariboo-Chilcotin is not endorsed by First Nations leadership nor are they recognized by the provincial government.
Since March, a group calling themselves the Chilcotin National Congress have posted no trespassing signs on a locked gate at the former Kwaleen elementary school on South Lakeside Drive in Williams Lake.
The ongoing postings culminated in the most recent document that states the property has been seized by the group and they further demand the surrender of ownership of not only Kwaleen school, but also Glendale, McLeese Lake, Poplar Grove, 100 Mile Junior Secondary, Anahim Lake and Glencoe schools.
Chief Joe Alphonse of the Anaham First Nation said the Chilcotin National Congress is not legitimate and has nothing to do with the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) or its affiliated communities, chiefs and band councils.
“In our communities leaders are elected and if people want to deal with us they deal with our leadership,” said Alphonse, who is also tribal chair of the TNG. “They claim to be representative of their families, but I don’t see any hereditary people in their group,” Alphonse said.
School District 27 Superintendent Mark Thiessen said he is aware of the notices and has referred the matter to the Office of the Attorney General of BC.
“The Attorney General’s Office has recently written a letter to the CNC advising them that “the Government of British Columbia does not recognize the Chilcotin National Congress as the proper legal representatives of the T’silhqot’in Nation”, nor does the Government “recognize the Universal Supreme Court of the T’silhquot’in as having any legal capacity to issue valid and enforceable orders,” Thiessen said.
“The Attorney General’s Office’s letter goes on to say that “contrary to the orders [the CNC] has issued, [the government] does not recognize [the CNC] as the lawful owners of the properties referenced in those documents”.
The Attorney General’s Office has asked the CNC to “cease and desist from sending letters and documents of this kind,” Thiessen said.
Inside the former Kwaleen school’s entrance, a document posted in the windows making the claims is signed by “Her Majesty Queen Dorothy Boyd” of the sovereign T’silhquot’in Nation.
Boyd has not responded to the Tribune’s request for an interview.
Alphonse said he does not want to be critical of other Tsilhqot’in people, but warned that people need to be careful with what they are putting out there in the public.
“There are enough issues going on,” Alphonse said. “We don’t need to be adding to those types of issues.”