From: Rick Knodel
Comments on the proposed South Okanagan national park.
The invitation only meeting in Penticton highlighted one of the important groups being left behind, as the Penticton Indian band (PIB) who were only given a 1/2 hr. notice of the meeting. PIB spokesperson Jonathan Baynes was critical of the lack of inclusion shown toward the PIB in this process and stated “It is not a partnership if the park is just going to be pushed through” and asked “What does the gov’t mean by a partnership?” Well, Jonathan welcome to what the non-native locals feel like, but at least we had a little more notice. Now that you know you have become window dressing, you won’t be surprised if you are asked to wear traditional garb next time you are invited.
It seems that the Liberal gov’t is taking a lot of lessons from Donald Trump by ignoring the law and telling lies (oh sorry! alternate truths) in order to misdirect the unwashed hillbillies of the Southern Okanagan. After all, we elitists know what’s best for you and a national park will make a nice addition to the pipeline we just bought for you. It appears that Catherine Mckenna is making promises that will require assent by parliament or possibly the creation of a whole subsection, much like the Banff Canada parks section, or will this be another Trumpism and we will be promised anything to get around us peasants. In short the accused will be given a fair trial before being hung.
Every resident of the Southern Okanagan should read and understand the Osoyoos Indian Band /Syilx Nations Draft Plans and Park Feasibility Study. These are the documents along with the Canada Parks Act that will create this park. I list it in this fashion because, make no mistake, this is the group that will have control of this park and the obligated expansions if the seed park is formed. If I were a member of the Penticton Indian Band I would be very concerned here; as they are in bed with a giant with enormous political control, unfathomable financial resources, and outside partners. These documents lay out, in no uncertain terms, that the current lands under consideration are too small and the expansions in consideration are up to Giants head on the west and Rattlesnake Island on the east. The areas on the east would encompass O.K. Falls, Skaha Estates, Heritage Hills, Carmi, East Bench, and Naramata. On the west the encompassment would be St. Andrews, Kitley, Kaleden, Twin Lakes, Olalla, Apex, West bench, Summerland, and Faulder.
The Canada Parks Act Bill C-27 allows for the expansions by order in council, which eliminates any need to have public input on the matter. This is very much akin to Donald Trump’s bulldozer democracy. So we can’t say that Justin Trudeau and his ministers have not been learning a thing or two.
We have all been victims in the past of governmental soft sell and assurances; just to end up being slapped by the realities and consequences of what was not disclosed to us. Some will reap huge financial benefits, while the elitist perpetrators pat themselves on the back and wander back to the sanctity and security of their homes far away, leaving us with the decaying remains of what they will have caused.
It is time for all residents to become well informed and involved. Considering the ramifications of what changes this will cause and the costs to you and your way of life. Make your informed decisions from the documents that will create this park and not from the propaganda for or against. Then whether you choose to support, or not to support the nation park, make your voice heard loudly. That is the democracy being denied you.
The documents referred to have been made available to the editors.
In November 2010, the Syilx Working Group began assessing the feasibility of a potential Syilx/Parks Canada protected area in the South Okanagan – Lower Similkameen, an area within the Okanagan Nation Territory. The Syilx Working Group was tasked by the Okanagan Nation Alliance Chiefs Executive Council to determine if it was feasible to consider development of a National Park Reserve as part of a broader Syilx vision to protect valued lands and cultural values within the Okanagan Nation Traditional Territory. A National Park Reserve would be established under the authority of the Canada National Parks Act, allowing a National protected area to be established where land claims and treaties are not settled.
This Final Report consolidates the findings of the feasibility assessment process. It was determined that there is sufficient protection of Syilx interests, common ground, relationship, and communication with Parks Canada to move to the next phase of the park establishment process. The next phase will provide additional information and clarity on issues, such as Syilx inherent rights (harvesting, hunting), collaborative decision-making, and the inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge in park management and decision-making.
The study found that it is feasible to engage in further discussions with Parks Canada about a future National Park Reserve without diminishing protection of Syilx Title and Rights. Parks Canada has committed to ensuring that appropriate legislative measures to establish a National Park Reserve will not compromise future settlements of Aboriginal Rights and Title claims for the Okanagan Nation. It was deemed feasible to establish a collaborative and consensus based model with Parks Canada that would seek cooperative management and decision-making, similar to Gwaii Haanas. Although the current park concept is deemed feasible, it is insufficient in size to promote the broader vision for protection of Syilx cultural and ecological integrity in the South Okanagan Lower Similkameen. Additional work should be initiated to address the broader Syilx vision for protection of land and culture. A Socio-Cultural, Environmental and Economic Impact Assessment has determined that a National Park Reserve has the potential to provide benefits to Syilx people and culture, research funding and increased employment opportunities.
Based on the findings of this report, the Syilx Working Group makes the following recommendations to the Okanagan Nation Alliance Chiefs Executive Council:
Recommendation 1: That ONA advance to the next phase of the NPR establishment process, the negotiations phase, as there will be no diminishment to Syilx Title and Rights, and that on all of the issues, with the exception of the issues related to the Province’s role, a determination of feasibility was made. Page 5 of 28
Recommendation 2: That the Okanagan Nation plan for and build appropriate capacity to prepare for future dialogue and negotiations, including but not limited to, Syilx inclusion in a cooperative consensus-based decision-making framework, integrating and showcasing TEK to guide park planning and management in the NPR, and ensuring Syilx access to the land and resources for traditional and cultural purpose within proposed National Park Reserve boundaries.
Recommendation 3: That a communication (media) strategy be developed and implemented in a timely fashion to ensure effective and accurate public communication relative to the Syilx engagement in the NPR establishment process, findings and future steps.
Recommendation 4: That the Okanagan Nation re-engage the Province by sending a letter to the Premier and to Cabinet outlining the findings of the Syilx feasibility process and expected re-engagement from the Province in future discussions.
Recommendation 5: That the Okanagan Nation seek a similar ‘approach’ to the Park SWG using a SARA group or committee (e.g. SOSSEC) to initiate solution-based dialogue with Environment Canada/Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and Parks Canada with clear objectives to build an effective working relationship and to resolve outstanding SARA implementation issues in the Okanagan-Similkameen prior to the establishment of a NPR. Appropriate capacity will be required.
Recommendation 6: That the Okanagan Nation continue ongoing strategic communications between the Syilx Chiefs and the PCA senior executives, including an agreed upon meeting following the conclusion of the feasibility study.