LETTER: Government’s appeal in Sinixt case dumbfounding

From reader Stevland Ambrose

Re: “Supreme Court of Canada agrees to hear Sinixt rights case,” Oct. 24

The province received much praise last week for introducing a bill that will ensure all provincial laws are aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

And yet I am writing to express my strong disapproval of the BC government’s continued court battles with the Sinxit (Arrow Lakes) peoples of the West Kootenay.

The attorney-general’s ministry is currently pursuing a Supreme Court of Canada case against U.S. citizen Richard Desautel for hunting without a licence and hunting without being a resident.

I am dumbfounded as to why the government feels that this trial would be in anyone’s best interest.

Is government still pursuing its disingenuous “the Sinixt left this area voluntarily” argument?

If yes, is the further argument being put forward that, having “left voluntarily,” the Sinixt gave up their Indigenous rights to hunt for food, social and/or ceremonial purposes in the Canadian portion of their traditional territory?

If the answer to both these questions is yes, then I am thoroughly disgusted with the actions of this government and, specifically, the attorney-general’s office.

There is ample evidence the Sinixt are a distinct cultural group who speak an Interior Salish language, and have existed in this area for hundreds if not thousands of years. The B.C. Supreme Court has already recognized this.

There is also ample evidence they were put under considerable pressure to leave this area.

I propose that future historians will point out how incredibly convenient it was for the settler culture (us) that the Sinixt had become mostly invisible to us and declared by us to be “extinct” before the Columbia River Treaty was signed.

After all that the Sinixt have lost — and all that we have benefited — how appalling is it that we are fighting their descendants over whether they have the right to hunt a few animals in their traditional territory.

It is my view that the government must seek the most expedient remedy for past injustices perpetrated against the people who were displaced when the West Kootenay was settled.

I expect I will soon receive a reply from the attorney-general’s office stating that it cannot “comment on a case that is before the courts.” My preference, however, is to receive a message stating that they are taking steps to reverse the 1956 “extinct” declaration, and to push the government to immediately begin any and all land claims and reconciliation processes with the Sinixt Nation.

Stevland Ambrose

Nelson

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Practical fashion: Local designers make supplies for Nelson dentists

Surgical caps and gowns have been in short supply for dentists during the pandemic

Search effort underway for man missing around Slocan River

The man was reportedly swimming near Winlaw yesterday

Kootenay doctor among 82 physicians, dentists calling on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Structures not threatened by wildfires burning in the Arrow and Kootenay Lakes region

Official says more lightning-caused fires could occur in region over next 36 hours

Harrop-Procter Co-op restores Mill Lake trail

A shelter destroyed by wildfire in 2017 will also be rebuilt

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Face masks will be mandatory for customers at all Walmart locations

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Penticton homes evacuated due to wildfire northwest of city

Emergency vehicles are at the scene near Sage Mesa, evacuation centre set up in Penticton

British Columbians worried as end of COVID-19 rental supplement looms

Single mom struggles as supplement was her saving grace

Three screening officers at Vancouver airport test positive for COVID-19

The public is not believed to be at risk of exposure

Arson suspected in several wildfires lit near Kootenay town

RCMP making progress in arson investigation of Marsh Creek fires

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

Most Read