Fortune Field is the focus of a proposed Splatsin land settlement.

Fortune Field is the focus of a proposed Splatsin land settlement.

Splatsin referendum uncertain

The band hasn't confirmed if a Saturday vote on a proposed federal land settlement is proceeding.

It’s not known if Splatsin band members are heading to the polls in a contentious referendum.

The band hasn’t confirmed if a Saturday vote on a proposed federal land settlement is proceeding.

Among those waiting to hear about the status of the referendum was Jody Leon, who as part of Protect Our Ancestors, has been lobbying council to have the vote cancelled.

“The stet’exam (elders) are disappointed that no response  has yet been given,” said Leon Thursday afternoon.

The referendum question would ask members if they support a $300,000 offer from the federal government for a cemetery that was removed from the reserve.

In 1877, the federal government agreed to designate the three-quarters-of-an-acre cemetery as reserve but the land was excluded in 1930. It is now privately owned by a local farmer.

Chief Wayne Christian could not be reached for comment, but in a recent interview, he stated council’s goal is to have residents directly involved in making a decision on the federal offer.

“It’s about getting information to our people and they can make a decision,” he said. “People need to exercise their right to vote.”

The band has held information sessions over two years.

“People want transparency and accountability and that’s what the referendum is all about,” said Christian.

Leon says the elders’ request for the referendum to be cancelled isn’t an attempt to silence members.

“They want to make sure the youth understand  before they vote on such an important  issue,” she said.

“The elders are checking in  and monitoring the young people in their families and community  and they are worried the youth and community do not have all of the information they need to make an informed decision.”

Protect our Ancestors wants an archeological study at Fortune Field, which it wants purchased by senior government.

As part of the federal specific claims process,  Christian has stated the band could possibly acquire Fortune Field from the private owner if there is a successful referendum.

If the referendum proceeds, it will run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Splatsin Community Centre.