Premier Christy Clark has accepted an invitation to visit Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah Valley) on Wednesday, Sept. 10.
“When we met with her in Vancouver last week to talk about our Supreme Court decision we told her she needed to see our title land,” said Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William.
During the meeting, Xeni Gwet’in elder Eileen Sammy William made a little bag and community member Pam Quilt put some soil in the bag which was presented to Clark.
The Tsilhqot’in went to the meeting with four requests.
They asked Clark to help bring the federal government to the table, which tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse said is the most important.
“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has to come to the table,” Alphonse insisted.
The chiefs asked Clark to agree to develop high levels of negotiating to address the rights and title area and the overall Tsilhqot’in title area.
Alphonse said he felt Clark arrived at the meeting with total respect.
“We spent half an hour with her and were caught off guard,” Alphonse explained. “We spend so much time fighting and arguing for our rights and there she was agreeing it was a huge opportunity to address long-standing wrongs.”
Clark was also invited to attend the 150th anniversary of the Oct. 22, 1864 hanging of Tsilhqot’in chiefs during the Chilcotin war.
“We want them exonerated,” William said. “It was an act of war not murder.”
The fourth request was that Clark visit Nemiah Valley and sign a letter of agreement on title land.
“These discussions were a good first step towards strengthening our relationship with the Tsilhqot’in Nation,” Clark said in the press release.
“The important recent ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada confirms the path forward must be taken in partnership, with respect and recognition. We are committed to taking the next step towards securing a more prosperous, just future for the Tsilhqot’in Nation and all British Columbians — together.”
William said Clark will meet the First Nations at the Chilko Lake Provincial campsite where there is a traditional site with a picnic canopy and different areas for drying fish and game that was developed in 2008 as part of a tourism strategy.
Beforehand the chiefs will hold a feast for community members to explain the agreement.