‘We have had enough’
The Interior Alliance has given notice it is willing to “fight in whatever way necessary to achieve justice for our people today and future generations.”
In a press release, Chief Wayne Christian of the Splatsin Indian Band, interim spokesperson for the Alliance, said, “We have had enough.”
First Nations and provincial officials are meeting in Vancouver to discuss issues facing the province’s aboriginal people.
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of Penticton has already said when it comes to reconciliation, B.C. is at “strike two.”
Phillip says there is a growing anger at the slow pace of change and called for an end to what he termed an antiquated, constipated mindset.
“On behalf of our people, we, the chiefs and grand chiefs of the Interior Alliance, stand together to deliver a message to all British Columbians, including the premier and ministers here today,” said Christian.
“Our inherent title and rights are defined by the laws found in oral histories and markers on the land in our languages. The tribes of the Interior Alliance share the same root language, cultural beliefs and convictions regarding title and rights.”
Christian said “our ancestors lived on this land long before the colonial settlers” and his people did not cede, surrender or sell their lands.
“Our nature as a peoples is to share and treat our guests with respect and we believed the Crown and government would do right by us. Instead, we have watched our natural resources be exploited and destroyed by greed and in the name of economic progress driven by government.”
Christian said economic certainty in the interior of the province will only ever be achieved through acceptance of First Nation’s inherent title by Crown and industry.
“We are prepared to take direct action to protect our traditional lands from ongoing exploitation without our consent,” he said. “We anticipate such direct action would disrupt the provincial economy, as well as the global economy until such time as title and rights are implemented and we are treated fairly, including, being engaged in meaningful land and resource management regimes, based on our traditional laws of the land.”
Christian said First Nation demands have not changed in more than 100 years.
“It’s not news that we deliver to the Province today, it’s a reminder that we will not forget the position of our ancestors and we will continue to fight in whatever way necessary to achieve justice for our people today and future generations,” he said.