An electromagnetic sensor is pulled behind UXO technicians at the Goose Lake range in March.

An electromagnetic sensor is pulled behind UXO technicians at the Goose Lake range in March.

Band trains UXO techs

Okanagan Indian Band members will be tackling an explosive situation

Okanagan Indian Band members will be tackling an explosive situation.

The first three of nine band members have been selected to attend training in Texas to assist in disposing of unexploded explosive ordnance from OKIB lands.

“While Canadians prepare to celebrate the end of the Second World War, relics of that era still litter our lands,” said Chief Byron Louis.

“During a clean-up last year, technicians found live mortars which were over 70 years old.”

Beginning with the Boer War in 1906, the Department of National Defense used OKIB range land at Madeline Lake and Goose Lake to train soldiers in firing live mortars, grenades and other munitions, including white phosphorous.

“They would fire the mortars from one range to the other,” said Louis.

“That’s over 12 kilometres and poor aim by soldiers in training saw much of our land surrounding the ranges also polluted.”

The recent agreement between the band and DND will see a total of 10 band members trained to become UXO technicians over the next three years.

DND is providing the funding for training.

“The clean-up effort will take time and an ongoing commitment by our partners in Ottawa,” said Louis.

“I’m proud of the members who came forward to be trained in this vital role. Their efforts will provide an opportunity for our future generations to enjoy our land safely.”