The Tsilhqot’in National Government and the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation have expanded a Title Land Ranger program and now include 12 trained land rangers from four Tsilhqot’in communities.
The rangers are tasked with covering the entire Declared Title Area, as defined by the Supreme Court of Canada decision of 2014, which recognized Aboriginal Title for the first time in Canadian history.
Last week when the Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon Trip crossed the Sheep Creek Bridge, participants were met by Esk’et Chief Charlene Belleau and members of her community, along with several Tsilhqot’in to celebrate the new rangers.
“They are going to be looking after title land,” Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William said before the rangers were introduced. “They are also going to be going to different gatherings throughout the Chilcotin and if any First Nations invite them they will come there too.”
For three months the new rangers trained on how to deal with people and began their work on Saturday, July 1.
“They know that land already so we don’t need to teach them about the land, but it’s the dealing with the general public,” William said. “These are your friends. They are just like you and are going to look after the land like you. It’s an honour to have our 12 rangers. Not all are here — some of them are working.”
“It’s my first year in the program,” said Shawn Harry from Tl’etinqox First Nation. “I enjoyed all the training I received and cannot wait to get out there and put it into use.”
Corbett Johnny of Tsi Del Del First Nation said it was an honour to work with Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, while Charles Johnny, originally from Tl’esqox First Nation lives in Xeni Gwet’in and has worked as a ranger for two years.
“We go all over the title area and record and observe,” Charles said.