Ski Resorts are More a Blight Than a Benefit for Aboriginal Nations
June 14, 2000
(Kamloops, Secwepemc Territory). The Interior Alliance today announced their support for the St'at'imc (Lillooet) Nation's decision to reject the ski resort proposed for the Melvin and Cayoose Creek drainage area, which is part of the St'at'imc Nation's unceded territory. The Interior Alliance also supports the St'at'imc position that resource and land use decisions within their territory are to be determined by St'at'imc law. In fact, the entire south, central interior of B.C., which comprises about one third of the province, is subject to the Aboriginal title of the Interior Alliance Nations.
The majority of the Bands from this vast region are not in the B.C. Treaty process, we are not being meaningfully consulted, or having our unique, constitutionally protected, priority, Aboriginal title and rights, accommodated by the provinces "Strategic or Operational" land or resource Plans. Our Aboriginal land use has already been negatively impacted by existing ski resorts in the south, central interior of the province.
These ski reports become year round destination areas which bring expansion and they eventually become small towns. The introduction of a new tourist population without Aboriginal involvement or consent, only adds to existing land and resource pressures on the important Alpine areas our peoples continue to rely on for their traditional activities. A prime example is the Sun Peaks Resort, which was built on a sacred Secwepemc mountain, and leased by the province without Secwepemc (Shuswap) consent. The Sun Peaks Resort continues to be an ongoing problem for the Secwepemc peoples. The Elders of several Secwepemc Bands in the area met last year with the owner of Sun Peaks Resort to deliver the message that they were against any expansion plans the Sun Peaks Resort has, yet expansion continues at the site. The Sun Peaks Resort has asked British Columbia Assets and Lands Corporation for a permit to develop a large gravel pit in the area to support further construction and expansion of the Sun Peaks Resort.
Chief Arthur Manuel, Chairman of the Interior Alliance said today:
"the tourist industry in British Columbia should not be surprised by the decision of the St'at'imc Nation to reject the proposed ski resort at Melvin Creek. This should signal to the tourism industry that the province's existing Aboriginal consultation policies, and the province's resource and land-use planning processes are not working because they don't recognize or respect the legal principles applying to Aboriginal title, which are set out in the Supreme Court of Canada's landmark Delgamuukw decision. I personally know Al Raine and Nancy Greene and they should have known better than to try and circumvent, or play politics with the St'at'imc Nation while promoting their project proposal. The fact is, the Secwepemc people have already experienced environmental impacts on the land and derive little benefits from the Sun Peaks Resort. So why should the St'at'imc Nation have to go through the same experience?"Chief Manuel, added:
"Our future connection with our Aboriginal title territories are threatened by ongoing resource and land-use plans which are dictated by non-Aboriginal interests and authorized without our consent by the provincial government. The Interior Alliance of Aboriginal Nations is there to provide mutual support and assistance to each other. We intend to highlight this land-use conflict in our ongoing international campaign, and we believe it wouldn't take too much effort to ask tourists from Europe or elsewhere, to boycott B.C. ski resorts, because the provincial government and tourist industry are ignoring Aboriginal title and rights."The St'at'imc Nation established a camp at Melvin Creek several weeks ago to protect the area from the unauthorized construction of a road to the proposed site of the ski resort, and to monitor developments on the ground which may further prejudice St'at'imc title and rights. Chief Manuel concluded by stating:
"I have visited the St'at'imc Camp at Melvin Creek twice now, and we have made contact with European support groups, who have already started to publicize this issue. During my visits I have personally observed 15 deer in this extremely narrow valley. Moreover, I am aware that the area is important habitat for other species, such as, wolves and grizzly bears. We fully intend to support the St'at'imc Nation in their efforts to protect this significant habitat."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Chief Arthur Manuel. Cell: (250) 314-7179. Neskonlith Indian BandChairman,
Shuswap Nation Tribal CouncilChairman, Interior AllianceCo- Chair, AFN
Delgamuukw Implementation Strategy Committee.
Chief Garry John. Cell: (604) 868-8560, or Office: (250) 259-8227Seton Lake BandChairman, Lillooet Tribal Council Spokesperson, St'at'imc Chiefs Council.