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(en) Canada, Natives plan more Sun Peaks protests

From Doc Rosen <drdrdoc@dr.com>
Date Sat, 30 Dec 2000 15:01:05 -0500 (EST)


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Natives plan more Sun Peaks protests

Members of two (Kamloops Canada) area Indian bands plan
to add a second protest camp at Sun Peaks Resort and
hold more demonstrations like the one they staged
Thursday in front of the Village Daylodge.

About 30 natives from the Neskonlith and Adams Lake
bands, from elders to infants, marched through the ski
resort village, stopped in front of the daylodge and
formed a circle. There, as skiers were handed
pamphlets, the group sang and drummed. Several members
spoke into a megaphone about why they were
demonstrating.

=93This place has been taken and leased without
consulting with us. This is our territory and this is
our land,=94 said elder Sarah Deneault.

=93All of you are my brothers and sisters. We have
nothing against you.=94

The natives are angry with the federal government.
Spokeswoman Janice Billy said the bands have been
trying to get someone from Ottawa to discuss the loss
of the Sun Peaks land that was included in the bands=92
1862 reserve.

B.C. Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zirnhelt and
Masayoshi Ohkubo, president of Nippon Cable (which owns
Sun Peaks Resort) have agreed to meet with band
representatives between Jan. 18 and 22.

Billy said there has been no word from anyone with the
federal Department of Indian Affairs about attending
that meeting, and the natives won=92t meet without
federal representation.

Robin Billy told the crowd the protest should serve as
a wake-up call to Canadians.

=93We=92re not here to take the B.C. economy hostage. We=92re
here to resolve aboriginal title,=94 he said, urging
skiers to take pamphlets and write their politicians
demanding a peaceful resolution to the Sun Peaks
dispute.

=93I encourage you not to look at us as brown faces here
to destroy your fun.=94

At the native camp on the western edge of Sun Peaks,
one man kept the fire going while others went to the
protest. While the camp has looked abandoned at times
since it was first set up, Janice Billy said three
people at a time stay there, as there are only three
beds.

The goal of the camp is to maintain a presence, she
said.

The natives are looking at setting up another camp at
the base of Mount Morrissey, where Sun Peaks plans a
$70-million expansion that includes ski lifts, a hotel,
townhouses and nine golf holes.

Penticton Indian Band Chief Stewart Phillip, who is
also president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said
natives successfully shut down a proposed expansion at
the Apex ski resort near Penticton.

=93We know what it=92s like to have a proposed ski resort
expansion in your back yard,=94 he said, noting the
company that was going to expand at Apex eventually
went bankrupt and the operation is now a small local
business.

=93It=92s up to the federal government to take these issues
seriously,=94 Phillip said.

Evelyn Camille, a councillor with the Kamloops Indian
Band, said she has been involved with the protest and
camp since it began this fall.

The band=92s new chief, Bonnie Leonard, has been to the
camp several times, she said, although the band council
has not voted to become actively involved.

She said she finds it increasingly difficult to find
places where she can get the plants necessary for
traditional medicines. Sun Peaks=92 expansion will
encroach on that further.

=93We want to sit in a circle and smoke the pipe with our
white brothers and sisters,=94 she said. =93We must start
to work together in good brotherhood and sisterhood.=94

Sun Peaks vice-president Darcy Alexander wasn=92t
surprised by the protest and said the ski operation
will continue as usual.

=93I understand how frustrated the aboriginal community
is,=94 he said.

=93We can=92t take it personally.=94

However, Sun Peaks legally negotiated a deal with the
B.C. government for the expansion at Mount Morrissey,
south of the current development, he said. That project
was no secret, as it has been in the resort=92s master
plan since spring of 1993 and area natives were
consulted at that time.

=93What we=92re doing here is completely legal,=94 Alexander
said. =93We have a right to be here as well.=94

He described Phillip=92s reference to Apex as a posturing
statement.

=93Aboriginal culture is a tourism draw around the
world,=94 Alexander noted.

Somos la misma familia,
Doc


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