- Category: news
- Created: Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:26
- Published: Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:26
- Written by Administrator 3
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By Lachlan Labere - Eagle Valley News
Sicamous council has agreed to work with the Splatsin First Nation for the betterment of both communities.
Last week, council received a visit from Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian and band council members Daniel Joe and Reno Lee. They were there to explain a protocol agreement proposed by the band to the District of Sicamous.
The intent of the agreement is to establish effective communications between the two governments, with the shared objectives including the collaborative pursuit of economic development opportunities, long-term servicing strategies for water, sewer and fire protection; a policy concerning the protection of cultural and archeological resources; and “developing shared principles in areas of mutual concern respecting environmental stewardship and sustainable communities.”
The agreement would not replace legal consultation requirements, nor does it extinguish, abrogate or diminish aboriginal rights or title.
“I guess our vision for this area is, we want to see Sicamous… be a vibrant community again,” said Christian. “Because what we’re noticing, as probably you’re noticing, is a lot of our young people moving out of the valleys and going off to Alberta and going off to other parts of the world to seek employment. So what we’ve been doing in our quest to sort of reestablish ourselves in our territory is enter into agreements with different cities.”
The band already has protocol agreements with Lumby and Enderby.
Christian explained the band’s relationship to Sicamous goes back to a time when their ancestors lived near the mouth of the Eagle River.
“We had a village site here which was decimated by small pox and the railway coming in,” said Christian. “The federal government made a decision to trade land on this side of the river for land across the river, just across the narrows actually. That was in the 1890s. We’ve been in protest since that time – we didn’t agree with that exchange of land….
“We’ve been trying to find a way to re-establish ourselves back here in this area because it’s quite significant to our people. Our people have lots of stories here.”
Christian indicated the band is interested in working with Sicamous to come up with ways to make it a vibrant, four-season destination.
Mayor Darrell Trouton said council had already met to discuss the protocol agreement and was in favour of moving it forward.
“We’re excited,” said Trouton. “I know heritage is important to all of us. This is a tourist-based community and the First Nations here are really important to us, part of our community as well.”
As recommended in the agreement, Trouton said council would form a government-to-government working committee.
Joe emphasized how the band and the district already share similar goals.
“We want to prosper like anyone else, we want jobs, we want… to boost the economy around here. We want this to be a destination place,” said Joe. “We’ve got 200 acres across the river there which is prime, right on the lake. The Splatsin is in a position to go forward and we want to go together.”
A ceremony will be organized for the signing of the protocol agreement.