Wednesday May 18, 2011

Local News

Treaty Testiness

It could be a busy 2011 season for DFO on the river

Craig Hill/Voice file photo Chief Joe Hall


n February 5, Yale First Nations inked a treaty with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. On Wednesday, Christy Clark delivered the deal to Yale band's leaders in an airtight time capsule.


The treaty includes just over 17,000 hectares, added to it, their original 217 hectares of reserve land for a total of about 7 sq. miles, plus a transfer payment of $10.7-million and $2.2-million for an economic development and stimulus fund. Prior to the agreement the band had 16 different reserves with 150 members hunkering down on just 217 hectares.

Traditionally, they've always shared the Fraser River fishing grounds. But Stó:lō doesn't recognize Yale First Nation as having sole hereditary rights over the rich fertile spawning grounds deep into the throat of the canyon.

In a letter last week to one of the local print media outlets, Stó:lō Chief Joe Hall, wrote that unless they achieve dispute resolution "there will be conflict."

Glen Thompson wrote The Voice Wednesday evening saying that he agreed with Stó:lō Cheif Joe Hall’s comment in The Progress newspaper and that "Dennis Adamson is mistaken."

Thompson said that the Chilliwack NDP hasn't endorsed the existing Yale treaty because it will just lead to more problems.

"Rather than providing greater economic certainty and social stability, the proposed treaty will result in continued and unnecessary conflict,” said Thompson.

Stó:lō have done well under the federal Economic Action Plan and also with the economic activity generated through the Resource Centre and Eagle Landing for example. Yale can't hold a candle to that and despite that Stó:lō are contesting the treaty, calling it unfair to them.

"Instead of Chuck Stahl and Dennis Adamson promoting the controversial treaty, they should have been promoting conflict resolution," said Thompson.

"The Yale Treaty will deny the Stó:lō fishing rights in the Fraser Canyon this will lead to conflict. The Yale Treaty is too one-sided. We elect government to bring people together, not to pit one community against another."

Ernie Crey said in a YouTube video last year that if they can't get their land that was "promised" to them, then it will result in conflict and they would "move to protect their interests".

A good guess is that the government was hoping the two nations could've sorted it out on their own, but alas, after a few millennia, they can't.

As cock-a-mamie as it may sound, maybe the courts would compensate Stó:lō with an equal amount of money as in the Yale treaty and develop a shared buffer zone between Nation's territories in the fishing grounds. You might as well do it right or stay at home.

If it's like Crey indicates in the clip, that there was room at the inn for everyone until about 3 or 4-years ago, then the rooms are stall vacant and a deal ca be worked out.

The BC government has drawn a line in sand and that could mean a busy fall for DFO on the river. There's always the possibility that 2011 won't come close to last year's unusually rich run.

The time was right to get the treaty a done deal. Yale saw the chance to get on with some badly needed economic stimulation, so they took it. They can't be blamed. In tough economic climes, land entitlement and hereditary rights do have monetary value. Everything has a price on the bargaining table and the dinner table.

You can watch an 8-minute 2010 video of Ernie Crey talking about why Stó:lō don't feel the treaty is workable here.

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