The Lower Similkameen Indian Band wants to negotiate.
A little more than six weeks after a press conference reaffirming the province, federal government and Okanagan Nation Alliance’s renewed commitment to establish a National Park reserve in the South Okanagan, the LSIB issued its own release to media stating they are open to negotiating.
Crow was at the press conference when members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance including Grand Chief Stewart Phillip spoke in favour of talks resuming about a national park reserve.
“It’s just we the LSIB did not have any opportunity to talk. I have local community asking why we have not said anything. So here it is,” Chief Keith Crow of the LSIB stated in communication with the Keremeos Review.
When asked to clarify if the release was aimed at making it clear the LSIB was interested in negotiating, Crow responded, “Yes and that we have no position at this point.”
The release specifically notes that the band is “willing to work with the federal and provincial governments, along with the Osoyoos Indian Band, Penticton Indian Band, and the Okanagan Nation Alliance on this endeavour.”
The controversial issue of establishing a National Park in the South Okanagan dates back more than 15 years.
The issue went dormant for several years but surfaced again when the province released an intentions paper in 2015 looking to establish a National Park and failing that create a new provincial park.
A Syilx Feasibility Study was completed in 2012, “will guide discussions and will also form the foundation on where we begin again,” the release stated.
The release also states Chief and Council will take direction from the LSIB community and will negotiate “as a full decision maker and partner to lead and shape this process.”
“Any decision concerning a National Park Reserve will impact our people for generations, including our title lands, way of life, and continued ability to fulfill our responsibilities. This discussion is not solely about creating a park – it is about the future of sməlqmix people, lands, and waters,” Crow stated in the press release.
A national park reserve is different than a national park in that lands in the reserve are subject to Aboriginal land claim.
At this point no decisions have been made on exact boundaries of a proposed park.
It’s unknown when discussions will commence among all partners.