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Land disputes continue despite Olympics

Okanagan indigenous community blocks access to logging company

by Andrew Crosby Original Peoples, →Dominion Stories, →2010 Olympics

Land disputes continue despite Olympics

Also posted by acrosby:

Land disputes between indigenous communities, resource-based companies, and the Canadian state are numerous and on-going. There is no Olympic time-out in this historical struggle.

On Saturday, February 20, the Okanagan Indian Band held an emergency meeting and passed a motion to establish checkpoints throughout the community as a reaction to the Tolko Industries logging company’s plans to cut trees in the Browns Creek Watershed, near Vernon.

While a B.C. court ruled that Tolko could begin logging in the area, the Band insists that the company lacks jurisdiction to harvest trees where land claims remain unresolved.

The court ruling was contingent on an archaeological consultation, one that Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Chief Fabian Alexis contend was less than genuine and ultimately flawed.

“Title to the area is a matter that is presently before the courts and that the Crown has been unable to produce any documentation showing acquisition of title from the Okanagan Nation,” said Alexis.

Most of present-day British Columbia has never been formally ceded by indigenous communities and remains as a major issue of contention and potential conflict.

“No Olympics on Stolen Native Land” has been the slogan that local communities have rallied around in their opposition to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. With thousands of journalists in B.C. for the Olympics, an episode like this, which may not traditionally garner much media attention, could potentially reach an international audience. A German film crew has already been on the scene.

The Okanagan Band argues that logging in the watershed will affect both native and non-native communities alike, and other residents of the area are showing their support in the decision to block Tolko’s access to the land.

“The provincial government has made it clear that the financial interests of Tolko are of greater concern to them than the health and safety of the people who derive their drinking and irrigation water from the Browns Creek Watershed,” stated Chief Alexis in a press release.

Tolko and government officials have not yet publicly commented.

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Comments

I hope that German film crew

I hope that German film crew tells a good story.  With the world's attention temporarily fixed on this region, it is a good time to take action on land-claim issues.  The fact that the gov't cannot produce any documentation showing that they have rights to the land in question is most compelling.  What are the expected effects on drinking/irrigation water in the area?  Soil erosion and water contamination?

Tolko

Only when the last tree has been cut
Only when the last fish has been caught
Only when the last river has been poisoned
Only then will they find out that money cannot be eaten!
Cree Prophesy
Due to this logging there are only a few fish remaining in this once bountiful creek that flows out of this area. I have seen the cutblocks up close myself, it is a dam mess, check it out on Google Earth. Bouleau (Bew'la) Lake is in the middle. Whoever certifies their lumber as responsibly harvested & sustainable is totally out to lunch to put it very mildly!!!
http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=50.287127,-119.64831&z=12&t=h&hl=en

It didn't matter that Treaty

It didn't matter that Treaty 10 forbade commercial logging for the Wiggins Bay Blockade in Meadow Lake Saskatchewan back in the late 1980's. Weyerhauser bought the Canoe Lake Chief and negotiated logging agreements with him in their hip pocket. The Multimillion Dollar Pulp and Paper Mill eliminated any and all local tree harvesting and immediately caused a rift between the Canoe Lake and Waterhen Reserves. The Clear Cutting devastated the whole area around Meadow Lake and eliminated these peoples contact and relationship with their natural surroundings. I hope this does not happen to the Okanagan Band. The protest should be widened and the local press approached by their elders. Suzuki came to the Meadow Lake blockade and the Kennedy's sent half a tractor trailor of supplies to support the blockade.

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