Simpcw First Nation speak out on eve of key treaty vote

By Greg Fry
June 14, 2018 - 2:32pm

BARRIERE, B.C. — Members of the Simpcw First Nation are anxiously awaiting the results of a vote that could have major implications on their rights.

The Lheidli T'enneh First Nation near Prince George is voting this weekend on whether to approve a treaty that would create significant and on-going boundary disputes between themselves and the Secwepemc and other First Nations, including McLeod Lake, Nak'adzli and Sai'kuz.

"The Lheidli T'enneh have never really provided any evidence of their own traditional use or occupancy in the Robson Valley and in the Valemount area, and yet they've included that area in a map they'd have treaty rights over," says Nathan Matthew, former chief and band council advisor to the Simpcw First Nation.

"And we're insisting that they provide evidence of their traditional use or occupancy or we will contest any aspect of the treaty process that has that map involved."

He says they've tried to resolve their differences with the Lheidli T'enneh but to no avail hence their decision to speak out on the eve of the vote. Matthew says they've also put a piece in a Prince George newspaper to make their case.

He notes a yes vote will negatively impact their ability to exercise their rights for hunting, fishing, gathering and occupying the area "because they would have a treaty right to do the same things."

He says if the Lehidli T'enneh vote in favour of the treaty there's still a chance they could stop it.

"There's still a number of steps that have to be gone through with respect to the province and federal governments and we would hope to intervene in those particular steps before the treaty was fully ratified."

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