Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William and B.C. Premier Christy Clark meet on Tsilhqot’in title land with members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation Wednesday at the Xeni Gwet’in traditional site above Chilko Lake in Nemiah Valley.

Xeni Gwet’in makes history

It was a day for the history books in the Nemiah Valley.



It was a day for the history books.

Under brilliant blues skies and with the majestic Coast Mountains rising above Chilko Lake behind them, members of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation welcomed Premier Christy Clark Wednesday as she set foot on Aboriginal title land for the first time in Canadian history.

“This is huge. This is history,” Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William told leaders and members gathered at the community’s traditional village, located near the west end of the Nemiah Valley, for the occasion.

“We have an opportunity to move forward and learn from the past … to change the future.”

Clark took a bold step toward that future by signing a Letter of Understanding with the chiefs during her afternoon visit.

The document, which is intended to build a more positive relationship between the Province and the TNG and also sets the groundwork for long-term reconciliation efforts, was in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in Nation Rights and Title decision in June, which granted the Tsilhqot’in First Nation more than 1,700 square kilometres of land following three decades of court battles.

“This agreement commits us to working in partnership as we explore how to implement the Tsilhqot’in Nation judgement. The Supreme Court of Canada has given us clarity and it has give us direction, and now we must begin the hard work as leaders and as peoples of reconciliation,” Clark told the crowd.

“We cannot change the past. We all know that. But we can change the future and I have always believed that it is up to us, each of us in our lives, to grasp that opportunity, as all of those tenacious leaders for the last 30 years have done.”

The fact that Clark made the time and effort to meet Tsilhqot’in leaders and members on their own title lands was not lost on Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman of Tsilhqot’in National Government.

“It’s an exciting day,” Alphonse said, noting it’s now time for the Federal government to follow suit.

Following speeches in which leaders on both sides expressed a desire to move forward together, Clark, Tsilhqot’in Chiefs, and John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, signed the Letter of Understanding.

Clark said the agreement sets out how the two governments will work together.

“First, addressing the issues of the past, including the wrongful trial and hanging of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs in 1864 and 1865. Beginning immediate work of the present, by establishing tables that will work together at the highest levels to implement the court’s decision. Third, the work of the future. Longer term reconciliation initiatives, exploring economic opportunities to improve health and the economic well being as well of the education of the Tsilhqot’in people,” Clark said.

There will be many hard topics to discuss at the table, including everything from hammering out hunting and fishing management, to forestry issues and of course the more contentious matter of resource extraction.

Chief Roger William promised the transition to First Nations management will be a positive one for everyone, including their non-First Nations neighbours and contractors, while Xeni Gwet’in councillor Marilyn Baptiste said protection of their pristine lands and air will always come before any development.

 

 

Just Posted

Photos:Tribune sports reporter shares love for tennis with lakecity youth

Several children took the opportunity to learn this professional sport

EDITORIAL: It’s a real crime

How much can one region take?

Cowboys, cowgirls earn precious points as BCRA season nears completion

The final opportunity to accumulate points will be this weekend, Aug. 23-24, in Smithers

Cow Moose Sign founder wants LEH for antlerless moose hunt in B.C. stopped

“Shooting a cow moose — it’s just not the right thing to do, especially in this region”

B.C. launches mandatory vaccine registry for schoolchildren

The Vaccination Status Reporting Regulation will go into effect ahead of upcoming school year

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

Most Read