** MEDIA RELEASE ** - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -
Blindsided by BC Government
Northern Shuswap Tribal Council and neighboring First Nations shocked by lack of respect
February 25, 2016 - NORTHERN SECWEPEMC TERRITORY - The Board of Directors of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NSTC), representing the four Northern Secwepemc te Qelmuc (NStQ) communities of Canim Lake Indian Band (Tsq’escen’), Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc), Soda Creek Indian Band (Xats’ūll) and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek / Dog Creek Indian Band), have been blindsided and insulted by the February 12th announcement of the Nenqay Deni Accord between the B.C. Government and the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
The land claimed by the Tsilhqot’in in this Accord, as ‘Category A’ lands on which the province recognizes that the Tsilhqot’in will have ownership of the land and resources, covers a huge area of central British Columbia, including significant portions of Secwepemc territory and that of other neighboring First Nation communities. The NStQ and neighboring First Nations share a unified message - they are offended by the lack of respect and consultation from the Province of British Columbia and the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG). NStQ member nations have been engaged with the governments of British Columbia and Canada in the six stage made-in-BC Treaty process for over 20 years and are currently on the threshold of entering into stage five Final Agreement negotiations. NStQ leaders insist they should have been consulted and properly informed, prior to the February 12th signing of the Nenqay Deni Accord.
The NStQ and our neighboring First Nation communities fully support reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal groups and applaud the Tsilhqot’in communities in their continued efforts to achieve recognition and reconciliation of aboriginal title & rights, but believe this can only be achieved in a manner that honours and respects the interests of all affected First Nation communities. However, the approach taken in reaching this Accord appears contrary to what the province of British Columbia and the Tsilhqot’in National Government subscribe to in the preamble language* written into their own agreement;
* “A tremendous opportunity stands before all of us, if we can overcome conflict and truly recognize and celebrate our different cultures, laws and governance, and our responsibilities to our lands and our future generations. It is our sincere hope that this Agreement offers an opportunity for healing and for building a better Province, for the Tsilhqot’in people and all British Columbians”.
NStQ leaders acknowledge the different cultures, interests and governance structures of its First Nations neighbours and sincerely thank the leaders of Lhoosk’uz Dene First Nation and Lhtako Dene First Nation for their support and concern in extending our unified message regarding the lack of provincial consultation and colonial attitude regarding the future of our lands. The NStQ encourage all British Columbia First Nations to review the Nenqay Deni Accord in detail and become vocal in their positions relating to this Accord.
For more information, or to arrange a media interview, contact:
o Chief Donna Dixon, Chair, Northern Shuswap Tribal Council Board of Directors
o Chief Michael Archie, Vice-Chair, Northern Shuswap Tribal Council Board of Directors