There was a lot of optimism as the Splatsin First Nation gathered with the North Okanagan and Columbia-Shuswap regional districts in Sicamous Wednesday.
On a stretch of the discontinued rail line, the organizations signed a memorandum of understanding that commits them to find a way to acquire the corridor from Canadian Pacific for community use.
“Forty years from now, what we are doing today will have an impact,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief.
And that certainly could be the case if the purchase occurs and a recreational corridor for visitors and locals is developed, giving a much-needed boost to the tourism sector. Some sections could also assist with outstanding issues like traffic congestion through Enderby.
While the two regional districts are involved, the leadership for this process has come from the Splatsin.
“Look at eco-tourism and what it can offer the region and the world. There are economic opportunities for the whole region, including our people,” said Christian.
Wednesday’s ceremony came two weeks after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recounted the often strained relationship between aboriginals and non-aboriginals in Canada.
None of that was evident as leaders from Spallumcheen to Sicamous stood together.
“I hope this is the first step of many we walk together,” said Rhona Martin, Columbia-Shuswap Regional District chairperson.
A lot of work still has to occur, including a potential source of funds, and ultimately the rail line may not be acquired.
But the fact that all of us as neighbours are working together is already the best outcome possible.