Band prepares for land titles case

Okanagan First Nations believe they may be close to resolving an ongoing land titles dispute.

Okanagan First Nations believe they may be close to resolving an ongoing land titles dispute.

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling allows the Okanagan Indian Band to proceed with legal action and to openly question the provincial government’s decision-making authority on forested land when there has been no formal treaty signed with First Nations.

“If there is no co-operation (from the province), that only leaves us with one venue and that’s the court,” said Chief Byron Louis.

The dispute between both parties arose when the band began logging at Browns Creek, on the west side of Okanagan Lake, in 1999.

The band stated it had the right to harvest trees under aboriginal rights, but the Ministry of Forests issued a stop-work order and commenced a legal action to enforce the order.

Various court decisions in favour of the band and the government have occurred since that time, and the band blocked commercial logging in Browns Creek in 2009.

Louis says the band must protect its traditional rights, as well as the natural resources it believes are at risk from some logging practises.

“Water is front and centre. Anyone who questions what we’re doing, I tell them to go into the bush and look at the clearcuts,” he said.

“What’s the value of their house without water?”

Louis adds that band members have been part of  the logging industry for generations and they want a seat at the table.

“Why would we stop economic development? What we’re concerned about is unsustainable development?”

Okanagan Nation Alliance officials are optimistic about the outcome of the pending legal case.

“The province of B.C. is in the awkward position of having to show how they came into title of Okanagan land and of course they’ve got nothing, no deed, no bill of sale, no treaty,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Louis believes all Okanagan residents should have an interest in the case.

“Forty years of industrial logging within the Okanagan watersheds has affected water quality for native and non-native residents alike,” he said.

“As stewards of the land, we will ensure the healing of the forests and the restoration of the creeks that feed our lakes.  This will improve the quality of life for all residents of the Okanagan territory.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon dusts off old grad dresses and tuxes for first ever Adult Prom

Literacy Society of North Okanagan “fun-raiser” brings back puffy sleeves and blue tuxedos

Our history in pictures

Vernon’s first home built in 1860s

Vernon City Hall now a pub

The building, built in 1903, is now where Marten Brewing Co. is

BX blaze sends woman to hospital

Firefighters rescue cat from early morning fire near Vernon

Enderby Library closed for maintenance

Okanagan Regional Library encourages patrons to visit Armstrong branch in meantime

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

A Gardener’s Diary: Not too soon to think of spring in Vernon

Jocelyne Sewell gives advice on getting a leg up on gardening

LETTER: Worst customer service award goes to…

To the Editor, Worst customer service award: And the Winner is….. BC… Continue reading

Oil and gas industry applauds Supreme Court’s dismissal of B.C. TMX case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Airliner crash a mistake that pleased Iran’s enemies: Supreme Leader Khamenei

Iran’s supreme leader says dowining of Flight 752 was a bitter accident in rare sermon

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

Penticton RCMP take down local drug trafficking operation

Weapons, suspected drugs, seized by RCMP

RCMP release photos of man wanted in Princeton armed robbery

RCMP have released photos and a description of the man suspected of… Continue reading

Most Read