Yale treaty ratified despite protests

Yale First Nation chief Robert Hope presents a picture from his Fraser Canyon community to former premier Gordon Campbell in 2008

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has ratified a treaty with the Yale First Nation, granting ownership of disputed fishing territories in the Fraser Canyon to the 150-member community over the protests of the neighbouring Sto:lo Nation.

Sto:lo representatives came to the legislature last week to warn of conflict over the fishing sites, which become part of the fee-simple property owned by the Yale once the federal government ratifies the treaty. The treaty also transfers forest and mineral rights and about $12 million in compensation.

Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson cast the lone vote against the treaty, emphasizing he was not opposed to the right of Yale and other aboriginal communities to settle treaties. He had two objections, one of which was the few hours allowed in the legislature to debate a treaty that runs to nearly 500 pages.

Simpson’s other objection was to the decision by the federal and provincial governments to proceed with the Yale treaty despite a detailed claim by the Sto:lo Nation to the canyon fishing and rack drying sites that have been used for thousands of years. Governments have set up a “race to the table” where aboriginal groups with overlapping claims can get an advantage by signing a treaty first, and that leaves the neighbouring groups to battle over the treaty in court, Simpson said.

Aboriginal Relations Minister Mary Polak said the disputed canyon areas were already designated as Yale territory by the establishment of reserves under the Indian Act a century ago. The treaty provides for temporary access by the public and Sto:lo members, so it improves on the existing situation, she said.

The Sto:lo are offended by the Yale treaty partly because their people were moved from the canyon to reserves in the lower Fraser Valley in the early 20th century. Governments of the day expected aboriginal people to abandon their traditional ways and learn to farm, but Sto:lo people continued to travel up the canyon to fish for salmon.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom voted against the Tsawwassen and Maa-Nulth treaties in recent years as a backbench MLA for Peace River South. Lekstrom voted for the Yale treaty, explaining beforehand that it was his duty as a cabinet minister to support the B.C. Liberal government.

His earlier objections to special rights for aboriginal people remain, Lekstrom said.

Just Posted

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Sexual assault charge dropped against from CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

BC Ferries considers passenger only ferry between West Shore and Victoria

Royal Bay, Esquimalt and Ship Point considered as part of study into new route

Sentence handed down for sex assaults committed more than 30 years ago

Man in his 80s will serve a conditional sentence in the community

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Reeling Port Alice about to lose its only bank

Scotiabank branch closure follows latest mill setback, bad for business and the elderly

Most Read