Mark February 16, 2004 in your calendars. It will be remembered as an important day in British Columbia history. Today, First Nations from across BC have begun taking local action as part of a variety of local actions as a part of a Title & Rights Alliance sponsored Action Plan.

In Enderby, near Vernon, the Spallumcheen Indian Band exercised its authority over its lands and resources by designating Mara Meadows as an indigenous “Protected Area”. In the coming months the Spallumcheen will be enacting their own legislation that will govern all logging and resource activities in the area. For more…

The trend of First Nations using their constitutionally-protected Title and Rights to push for better conservation bodes well for BC’s forests, streams and wildlife. It also sends shock waves through the provincial Crown’s plan to create “certainty” for resource companies through deregulation, privatization and industry self-management.

The Spallumcheen and other First Nations involved in the Title & Rights Alliance are concerned about about last years sweeping amendments in forestry and land use law last year that are now impacting negatively on First Nations.

The Spallumcheen are not the only First Nations with actions planned for today or in the coming weeks. Actions are planned for the Cariboo, Shushwap, Prince George, Okanagan and Coastal areas.

These Actions will call into question Liberal’s Throne Speech promises and send a strong signal about growing frustration amongst First Nations.

The frustration results from the Liberal goverment’s attempts to undermine Aboriginal legal victories by unilaterally amending legislation and also from stalled negotiations about fundamental issues of jurisdiction, decision-making, revenue sharing and compensation.

In the Throne Speach, the Liberals promised that:

  • certainty in land use will continue to be enhanced this year;
  • dialogue and negotiation are triumphing over division and confrontation.”

Apparently, a growing number of First Nations disagree.

As Chief Gloria Morgan stated, “The Government of British Columbia” new Forest Act rules allow timber companies to treat our territory like their private property, buying and selling timber rights without meaningful consultation and accommodation… “We will not stand by while revenues from logging in these areas are used to balance the budget on the backs of First Nation, rural communities and the integrity of our land.”

The Title & Rights Alliance is a new unified initiative by First Nations from across BC to protect the well-being of their land, water and air. They have developed and are beginning to implement a coordinated legal, political and financial Action Plan.

Through coordinated and integrated actions the Title & Rights Alliance and its members will prevent infringements of Aboriginal Title and Rights arising from the Province’s Forestry Revitalization Plan and other resource policies. Dogwood Initiative, and Jessica Clogg of WCEL, a part of the technical team supporting the Title & Rights Alliance.

A new era has begun. By supporting First Nations and catalyzing collaborations amongst non-traditional allies, Dogwood Initiative believes we can make British Columbia a model for a just, equitable and sustainable society.