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

Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas says district is not backing out of multiplex project

The district will be holding a multiplex open house session Jan.29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre.

Port Alice trailer goes up in flames in the early morning hours

The North Island Gazette will continue to update the story with more details as it progresses.

1041 customers without power due to outages in Northern Vancouver Island

Keep following the North Island Gazette for more on the power outages.

VIDEO: Sports Talk with Tyson: North Island Bantam Eagles are ready for provincials

Sports Talk with Tyson is back this week with an indepth look at the North Island Bantam Eagles.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

No injuries after collapsed floor traps worker at former North Island mill – fire chief

Company says it’s investigating after incident at decommissioned Catalyst facility

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Most Read