Monday, September 22, 2014
Text Size

Vancouver Island First Nation declares ‘tribal park’ to protect land

Latest park meant to thwart potential Imperial Metals mining project near Tofino

By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island has used a unilateral tribal park declaration to try to control development on their traditional territories.

The Tranquil Valley tribal park in Clayoquot Sound — where Imperial Metals is investigating the possibility of a mine — is the third tribal park the First Nation has declared.

The Tla-o-qui-aht has declared this territory, about 20 kilometres northeast of Tofino, off limits to mining activity after the province issued a gold exploration permit to the Vancouver-based company last summer.

While tribal parks have not been recognized by the province, Parks Canada worked with the Tla-o-qui-aht on a “tribal parks establishment project” in one of its declared parks in 2009.

The tribal parks are meant to create a management system to protect the land, but also create sustainable jobs.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has done that, for example, with hatchery programs to improve fisheries, bear watching and run-of-the-river hydro projects.

The $15-million Canoe Creek Hydro is already operating, and a similar project is expected to begin soon.

But the Tal-o-qui-aht have also used the tribal park idea to push back on development such as jet boat-skiing on a lake near Tofino because it was not in keeping with their drinking water interests.

“We are kind of the founders of (tribal parks). It’s a unique model, articulating how we want to live,” Saya Masso, councillor and resource manager for the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, said Sunday.

The Tla-o-qui-aht, like most First Nations in B.C., have not resolved land claims. As a result, they have unceded aboriginal rights and title laid out in numerous court rulings.

“If there is one thing salient about all this is we just finished a tribal park planning unit that has jobs for 500 years, not 10 years of jobs and 500 years of impact,” said Masso. “That’s the premise: we are developing plans for our future. We regard fish as a value, the serenity of the area, and spiritual practices that we have to do.”

B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said Sunday while there is no doubt First Nations have aboriginal rights when it comes to resource extraction, declaring a tribal park falls in a grey area.

And he noted the province’s existing laws allow companies to get exploration permits for mining.

Bennett also noted that before a mine can be built, there would have to be a comprehensive environmental assessment and discussion with First Nations.

He said he is not in favour of the unusual move of expropriating mining rights, which would be needed to declare a mining moratorium.

But Bennett, who met with the Tal-o-qui-aht last year, said the matter does need more attention.

“The way through this is with respectful engagement with the First Nation. I am going to try to get the First Nation and the company together with us, and start talking a little more and see what’s possible,” he said.

Imperial Metal officials could not be reached Sunday for comment.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation was involved in declaring the first tribal park in the mid-1980s on Meares Island. They declared a second tribal park in 2009 in the Tofino area.

In 2011, the Doig River Nation in northern British Columbia announced plans to develop a tribal park that straddled the B.C.-Alberta border.

The Doig River Nation said the goal of the park was to try to protect the area, including the forests.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has been receiving support for its moratorium on mining in the area near Tofino.

Last week, Victoria’s city council passed a motion supporting the First Nation’s call for a moratorium on mining in its territory in Clayoquot Sound.

The District of Tofino council earlier passed a similar motion.

Environmental groups such as the Wilderness Committee have also supported the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s efforts to have tribal parks recognized by the B.C. government.

“Clayoquot Sound is no place for a mine. The Tla-o-qui-aht are the original stewards of the land, and it’s good to see Victoria respect their leadership on this,” said Torrance Coste, of the Wilderness Committee.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins