An approximate 102.1 hectares of land near Blue Lake has been returned to Xatśūll First Nation, north of Williams Lake as part of ongoing treaty negotiations.
“The return of the lands near Blue Lake represents the continued co-operation between Xatśūll and the provincial and federal governments,” Kúkpi7 (Chief) Sheri Sellars noted in a news release. “These lands were at the heart of our traditional territory as evidenced by the remnants of pithouses and other archeology artifacts that can be found there today.”
Sellars noted the area is regularly used by community members for everything from swimming and fishing to pitch harvesting.
“I offer my sincere congratulations to Xatśūll First Nation. Transferring land of significant cultural importance, like the Blue Lake parcel, is a tangible way for government to show our commitment to advancing our shared vision for reconciliation,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
The lands are held as fee-simple lands by Soda Creek Land Holdings LTD and are not an addition to reserve lands.
“Congratulations to Xatśūll First Nation on this significant step forward that is the transfer of lands, as part of the Treaty process. It is an important accomplishment and a great example of what we can achieve when we work together in continued collaboration and partnership,” noted Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
Xatśūll First Nation is negotiating a treaty as part of Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NSTQ) which is made up of Xatśūll First Nation, Williams Lake First Nation, Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake Band) and Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. NSTQ is currently in Stage 5 of the B.C. Treaty Commissions (Negotiating a final Treaty).
“While chief and council have yet to decide on how Xatśūll will use these lands going forward, it may provide expanded economic opportunity, for example, through camping, through its connection with Xatśūll-built trails and its proximity to the Xatśūll Heritage Village. Furthermore, for some of our many members looking to move home, it could provide an opportunity to do so,” said Sellars.
The Tribune has requested an interview.