What is the city’s position on the issue of Aboriginal rights and title?
The picture as part of the article on the “Land Title Express” (Tribune Weekend Advisor, Nov. 1, 2013) shows Mayor Kerry Cook front and centre at the send off of the Tsilhqot’in delegation that travelled to Ottawa. This prompted me to send the mayor a letter asking about her thoughts on the BC Court of Appeal decision on Aboriginal title and what outcome she was hoping for from the review in the Supreme Court of Canada. The response I received was;
This matter is before the courts to be litigated there through the legal process. I am personally looking forward to the matter being resolved.
I am not sure how to interpret this short and evasive answer, beyond the obvious refusal to address the question asked. This statement appears to suggest that the City of Williams Lake is prevented from commenting on this issue while it is “before the courts.” I doubt that this is true as other levels of government have taken positions and there is nothing preventing the mayor from sharing her thoughts on the issue of aboriginal rights and title in B.C. in general terms.
The other point being made here appears to be that the mayor has decided not to take a position on Aboriginal title even though the City of Williams Lake has clearly stated their support for the proposed “New” Prosperity Mine;
“The city’s position has always been that we support the mine project as long as provincial and federal environmental standards are met, and First Nations are adequately consulted.”
This qualifying statement seems to be wishful thinking on behalf of council and I can see how it would make them feel more comfortable with their position but what do these nice sounding words really mean?
The reality is that a project of this nature can’t be implemented without significant negative impacts.
It might be helpful if Mayor Cook could explain what is meant by adequate consultation.
Approving or supporting a project of this nature without resolving the First Nations issues is not “moving us forward” towards reconciliation. It would simply be repeating past mistakes and maintaining the status quo.
150 Mile House