EDITORIAL: Progress needed across province

Government and First Nations must resolve outstanding issues to the benefit of everyone

There will be those in the non-native community alarmed to read that some First Nations “are prepared to take direct action to protect our traditional lands from ongoing exploitation without our consent.”

That action, if it occurs, could range from roadblocks to international lobbying and advertising, but it’s all related to the ongoing frustration that the issue of titles and rights remains unresolved.

“It’s the same song and dance and nothing has changed,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief.

Unemployment remains high in many First Nations communities as does poverty, and it’s partially related to a lack of access to natural resources and out-dated, patriarchal federal legislation.

After meetings between B.C.’s native leaders and the provincial government last week, there will be attempts to establish a reconciliation agreement that resolves land claims and resource development.

Byron Louis, Okanagan Indian Band chief, is trying to remain optimistic about the process.

“There’s an understanding that the status quo is unacceptable,” he said.

“The province recognizes that and First Nations recognize that but it’s a case of overcoming years of misunderstanding.”

Louis is right when he says that the future to reconciliation is linked to First Nations communities developing economically and the spin-off benefit for surrounding regions and the province.

We would encourage all local residents to contact their MLAs and band councils to actively remain at the table and to look towards a future of co-operation and mutual respect.