Richard Rolke’s recent editorial concerning recognition of indigenous land title (Making a statement July 19) is a positive civic social statement.
There is mention elsewhere of Coun. Scott Anderson not supporting the idea because of possible legal implications. For the latter, no worry, as the Supreme Court of Canada has several times recognized that aboriginal title to the land has not been extinguished, and very little of B.C.’s land has been ceded by treaty.
It is the land that shapes the culture of the people living there, the land is the culture. Our current Okanagan landscape of lakes, hills, mountains, moderately cold winters and hot summers helps define our local culture.
So too did the landscape influence the local indigenous people.
The influx of white colonial settlers effectively removed the native population either through subterfuge or direct action, then continued to destroy the culture through forced removals, biased racial laws, and the general denial of their equality. Racism and ethnic cleansing are a part of our heritage as much as the glorification of explorers, settlers, politicians and the military.
There is a simple solution that unfortunately would probably not see a simple implementation. Give back to the native population large tracts of their land. Compensate them for what cannot be given back. Yes it’s an expensive proposition, but money, while it does not grow on trees, can be created by the federal government by the push of a computer button. Allow them to govern themselves as best they can without outside, racially motivated laws and benefit from the resources of their land.
Allow them to reinvent their culture as best as they see fit.
More broadly, our comfortable consumer society is based on the extraction of resources from many displaced indigenous peoples around the world. How about that cup of coffee?
Or the cocoa that makes your favorite chocolate treat? Where does the coltan that is used to make your smart phones and tablets come from?
Where are the largest lithium deposits that are used for many electrical batteries? Your daily banana actually does come from a U.S. sponsored banana republic.
The legal position exists, the solutions exist.
Enacting something that allows both the settler nation and the indigenous nations to prosper culturally with economic stability will probably prove to be difficult.
Rolke’s recognition of the unceded territory of the Okanagan people is a good first step.