First Nation shocked by vehement reaction to proposed reserve

Campbell River No Rez paint

Vandals show their displeasure with a proposed First Nation reserve for York Road, tagging the road near the TimberWest lands sold to the Tlowitsis First Nation for a reservation. / Contributed to Campbell River Mirror

By Kristen Douglas, Campbell River Mirror, April 12, 2016

The Tlowitsis First Nation says it’s “disappointed” by the reaction of Area D residents to its proposal to establish a reservation on York Road.

Thomas Smith, economic development officer with the Tlowitsis, was reacting to ‘No Rez’ messages spray painted on signs marking the proposed development site as well as on the road nearby.

“We’ve been pretty disappointed,” Smith said. “We anticipated some blow back but the amount of nasty comments were a little surprising. We’re quite shocked by it, that it went to that high a level.”

The push back is over the Tlowitsis’ application to the federal government to be given reserve status by the Additions to Reserves process through Indigenous Affairs.

Smith said the Nation is close to completing its application package and is now looking for a letter of support from the Strathcona Regional District.

“We want to keep an open door but it’s going to be interesting trying to resolve this,” Smith said. “We’d like to hope that cooler heads will prevail.”

Area D resident Marion Burkell agrees. At a meeting between the regional district’s electoral directors last week, she condemned the actions of those who spray painted the negative messages.

“The applicants are people too and deserve respect no matter the outcome of this,” she said. “What is not welcome here are those responsible for the spray paint and the graffiti to the signs and roadway on York Road. It’s a beautiful area to live and hopefully rural life will calm again once questions are answered, plans are made and new neighbours are settled.”

Plans for the reserve – which would serve as a home for roughly 100 of the Tlowitsis’ 425 members who are spread out among the remote coastal areas of northeastern Vancouver Island and adjacent mainland inlets – came to light nearly three weeks ago, though the project has been in the works for several years.

Area D residents packed last week’s electoral directors meeting to air their concerns over a proposal they said they never saw coming because of confidentiality agreements.

Bob Solc, vice-president of the Area D Ratepayers Association, said the neighbourhood was not properly informed.

“I believe we need to be more open and transparent,” Solc said. “Everybody we’ve talked to has been left in the cold on this.”

Others said they were concerned that having a reserve near their home would devalue their property.

“I have no issue with anybody buying private land, whether it be First Nations or anybody, but I do take issue with the petition to turn it into reserve lands,” said Peter Sprout, who lives near the proposed reserve site. “Call it bias or not but there is a stigmatism associated with a reservation.”

Long-time Area D Resident Terry Honig said there are still too many unanswered questions.

“The affected residents have numerous grave concerns about this proposed development and its effects both short and long term, on our quiet rural community,” Honig said. “A few of the residents’ grave concerns: environmental issues, water septic and drainage; traffic and highway access, safety for our community; loss of tax revenue; schooling, SD72 is closing Oyster River Elementary; fire protection. There are many more concerns from the Area D residents but we as a district have not had any time to act. Area D residents deserve to have input.”

Area D Director Brenda Leigh agreed and said she couldn’t support the proposal as things stand.

“I am not in favour of locating an Addition to Reserve at this point because, as far as I am concerned, the consultation has not begun,” Leigh said. “I wish to make it clear that until the public consultation process happens with Area D people, there is no done deal.”

Electoral directors voted at their meeting last week to defer making a decision on writing a letter of support for the Tlowitsis until regional district staff report back with more information on the impacts of the proposed reserve.

Smith said the purpose of establishing a new reserve for the Nation is to build a home community that is easily accessible. He said it’s “not practical” to build on the Tlowitsis traditional territory which encompasses an area north of Kelsey Bay toward Beaver Cove (including Turnour Island), and has no schools or health services and can only be accessed by water or air.


Posted on April 13, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. cynthiajoanmorrison

    There’s always a bad apple in every bunch. Some people need to be taught tolerance. There if obviously a communication problem here. Why even keep things confidential anymore? Give people the chance to swim things around in their brain. Yes, reserves that I am aware of, & that is also from what is on the News media….are bad for everyone. I think they need to be better designed. I am a sustainable landscape designer. I have an image in my head of how these reserves could be designed & planned out better for them to actually work well for the residents. I think it could be a win -win situation for everybody if you had the right plan in the first place. Please disregard some idiot spray-painting No Reserve on the street. That is rude.

  2. So many Indigenous/Anishinabek communities have been fighting to keep their lands for future use are still cought up in court room with Judges and lawyer, with no feed back to where their cases stand. When our communities become over crowded and impossible to sustain, we are the scapegoats for the government’s miss spendings, and nothing get resolved for First Nation communities. The country continues to except the social economic problem is ours. We need to government to take ownership and start education the rest of the Canadian citizens of to whom is the rightful citizens of this content. We have no inattention of disappearing or staying quite no more.

  3. the absurd irony in this whole situation is unbelievable!

  4. Peter Zaschke

    When people start throwing around the racist word the conversation is basically over because what that does is shuts down legitimate opinions and ends the conversation. I am in the affected area and I’m not happy with the situation so I guess I’m a racist also. The way this thing is being rammed down our throats, how do you think people will react? There will be NO consultation as it not required as has been stated by the band leader and others. I thought this was a democracy at least it was the last time I looked! How can you make a major change to the local land use and have one sector of the population completely bypass any local input or approval when it greatly affects the people that live in the area. Some people that say they don’t know what the York rd. residents problem is, I suggest they drive around Vancouver Island and visit a few reserves, our concerns will be self explanatory. And after your drive if you still feel the same, well I guess This Isn’t racist, as it has nothing to do with race or colour! It has to do with a neighbourhood. I wouldn’t want a half way house in my neighbourhood either, or like in Maple Ridge changing an old motel into a shelter. At least the residents there had a process to dispute!!! The racists

    When you give special rights to one sector of the population you create very large problems!

    Oh yea, Where is our MP for the area anyways? When I tried to contact her what I got is a auto reply from her office saying she will get back to me. I’ve been waiting for months. But what I did get repeatedly was unsolicited junk emails from the NDP party that I never asked for!

    Anyways that’s my rant. The funny thing is my wife doesn’t want me to say anything as she says no matter what you say you will be made out a racist. Sorry can’t do it darling!!

    • Guess you wouldn’t like being colonized either then, eh? The town of Campbell River was itself imposed on the Kwakwaka’wakw people, who had no opportunity for consultation. Why don’t you think about that for awhile…

  1. Pingback: First Nation shocked by vehement reaction to proposed reserve | The First Nations

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