The B.C. government announced Friday it has purchased a ranch in the Cariboo region for a local First Nation as part of ongoing treaty negotiations.
Bought from owners Roger and Alison Patenaude, the $8 million purchase includes the ranch, located in the 150 Mile House area, its Crown land range tenure, cattle, hay and equipment.
It will be leased to Xatśūll First Nation (Soda Creek Indian Band), one of four community members of the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ).
Once a treaty is reached with the NStQ then ownership will transfer to Xatśūll First Nation.
“I believe this is a sign of the changes that are needed to make reconciliation something real for our members and First Nations communities around the province,” said Kukpi7 (Chief) Sheri Sellars, Xatśūll First Nation in a news release issued Friday, Aug. 7.
“The opportunity this creates puts the tools for economic development into the hands of a community whose life has always been centred around the land.”
The purchase includes 1,574 hectares of deeded land, 113 hectares of additional pasture, more than 500 head of cattle, extensive outbuildings and two residences.
There are 486 hectares of hay production and ample irrigation.
It was formerly known as the Carpenter Mountain Ranch, but the name was not part of the sale and is still held by the previous owners who had purchased the property in 1986.
Roger Patenaude said it was five years ago he and Alison decided to approach their neighbour, Xatśūll First Nation with their intent to sell as they were ready to retire.
“Part of my vision for Soda Creek is community building and I hope this works for them,” he said. “We’re very proud of what we had here and accomplished, and we hope that Soda Creek will respect that and continue on this path.”
Sellars admits she was initially hesitant of the nation purchasing the ranch.
“I didn’t know if this was what we wanted to do or if we were ranchers but at the same time everybody throughout the treaty process asked for the land, and it’s very worth it,” she said, noting the ranch will provide Xatśūll First Nation numerous opportunities in terms of economic development and food security.
A name for the ranch will be chosen by Xatśūll First Nation community members.
The nation is being provided a grant by the B.C. Government towards the operating costs for the ranch’s first year.
Sellars said ranch hands Willee Twan and Richard Branch will remain on site to assist guiding them with ranch operations, and that they are working on developing a business plan which will determine available employment opportunities.
Northern Shuswap Tribal Council senior treaty manager Hank Adam estimates it will take at least five years for the NStQ communities including Xat’sull, Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake), T’exelc (Williams Lake) and Stswecem’c – Xgat’tem (Dog Creek – Canoe Creek) to complete the fifth stage of treaty negotiations.
The sixth and final stage will mark the implementation of the treaty.
“We have also interim treaty agreements on smaller parcels of land,” Adam added.