Yale chief takes ‘the high road’ as treaty approved

Yale First Nation Chief Robert Hope is taking the high road in the treaty dispute with the Sto:lo and offering to back off a proposed permit system to control access to fishing sites in the Fraser Canyon claimed by Sto:lo families.

Yale First Nation Chief Robert Hope is taking the high road in the treaty dispute with the Sto:lo and offering to back off a proposed permit system to control access to fishing sites in the Fraser Canyon claimed by Sto:lo families.

“That’s not going to be imposed right away, if at all,” he said, in a telephone interview Friday.

“It may be better to put that aside,” he added, explaining that it is just one option the Yale people are looking at to manage their lands.

Another option is direct talks with families who have traditional fishing sites in the canyon.

But the very idea of asking the Yale for permission to access fishing sites and other cultural and religious sites is a major bone of contention to the Sto:lo, who had asked the B.C. government to hold off approving the treaty until a “shared territory” agreement could be reached with the Yale.

But last week the treaty received overwhelming support in the B.C. Legislature, with all but one MLA voting to approve its terms.

The treaty now moves to the federal government for final approval, but Chief Hope said he hopes to meet with Sto:lo leaders before that happens to resolve the differences between them.

“I’m hoping between then and now to sit down with Joe Hall and others to talk in a reasonable manner and plan things out for (Sto:lo) people to come up to Yale,” he said.

Although the approval by B.C. MLAs was “a great victory for the Yale,” he said. “I’m not going to rub their noses in; I’m not going to strut around.”

“I’ll take the high road,” he said.

But Chief Joe Hall, president of the Sto:lo Nation, said the dispute isn’t with the Yale people so much as the federal and provincial governments for considering a treaty that would hand control of fishing, cultural and religious sites “sacred” to 10,000 Sto:lo to about 150 Yale people.

He insisted it’s not an overlap issue, because the Yale band is actually a Sto:lo village, a claim vehemently denied by Chief Hope.

Hall also suggested the province made a “huge mistake” approving the treaty that he said flies in the face of B.C.’s “new relationship” with aboriginal people, and Premier Christy Clark’s “families first” policy.

The approval will have an impact on treaty tables around the province, he warned.

A Sto:lo request that the proposed treaty be referred to the government’s aboriginal standing committee for review was ignored, Hall said, and the settlement “rushed” through the legislature for political reasons.

Hall said he believes the federal government will take the time to carefully review the treaty.

“They don’t feel as compelled (to quickly approve) for political reasons,” he said.

In the meantime, the Sto:lo lobbying effort in Ottawa will continue.

It’s not clear what the impact of opposition to the treaty by BC Conservative Leader John Cummins, a former MP and outspoken critic of native fisheries, will have on federal MPs, if any.

Chief Hope said Cummins’ opposition to the treaty is a concern because “he is one individual who uses the system very well, and uses it for his benefit, maybe not ours.”

But Chilliwack MLA John Les suggested Cummins’ influence in Ottawa is waning since his decision to run for leadership of the B.C. Conservatives.

Several of his MP colleagues in B.C., including Stockwell Day, are unhappy with his decision, fearing it might split the right-wing vote.

“He doesn’t seem to have the support of his former colleagues,” Les said.

Chief Hope said contrary to Cummins’ statements, the Yale do not have an “exclusive” fisheries agreement, and most provincial and federal laws will still be paramount to any future Yale legislation, which is restricted to its own land and people.

“We have very little law-making ability,” he said.

The fisheries agreement is also outside the treaty, he said, which means it does not have constitutional protection and can be amended.

But what the treaty does guarantee is the “survival” of the Yale people, said Hope, chief of the band for the past 33 years.

“We’ll be here forever,” he said. “We own the land. We own the fish. We own the mountains and we govern ourselves. No more Indian Act.”

After 17 years of negotiating a treaty, it’s approval by the B.C. Legislature was clearly a personal milestone for the chief, who recalled the standing ovation given the Yale delegation by MLAs after the vote.

“I was pretty choked up, a big lump in my throat,” Chief Hope said.

And when the MLAs cheered even louder a second time …

“Boy, what a feeling,” he said. “For the minister and the MLAs to believe what I’m doing is right.”

“I felt good for everybody in my community,” he said.


Just Posted

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

Chilliwack students take the lead as mental health advocates

About 100 Chilliwack youth prepped to make a difference during Mental Health Week

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Most Read