Okanagan Nation Alliance

October 23, 2009 20:06 ET

Okanagan Nation Maintains Opposition to Clear-cut Logging

Supports the Okanagan Indian Band Protecting Brown's Creek

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VERNON, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Oct. 23, 2009) - The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is currently undertaking the necessary steps to prevent clear-cut logging of the Brown's Creek Watershed. The Province's claim to title and jurisdiction to the Brown's Creek Watershed is challenged by the Wilson case by the Okanagan Nation in the watersheds in a dispute that has been before the Courts for over a decade.

Tolko was granted TFL 49 despite strong objections from the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Okanagan Indian Band. The Courts granted the Okanagan Indian Band a preservation order to allow the preservation of evidence and trail-mapping evidence necessary to prove their Aboriginal Title. While the evidence is being collected, Tolko has decided it will log the litigation area and they issued notice and began logging on October 21, 2009. Okanagan leaders and members from many Okanagan communities organized themselves in defence of Okanagan Title and Rights and the carrying out of stewardship responsibilities entrusted to the Okanagan Nation.

Tolko informed the Okanagan Nation that it would be seeking an injunction in response to the Okanagan Nation activities within the Brown's Creek Watershed.

The Okanagan Nation stands committed to the protection and preservation of evidence of Okanagan Title and Rights through supporting the Wilson litigation which has been on-going in good faith for ten (10) years.

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BROWN'S CREEK LOGGING DISPUTE UPDATE
October 23, 2009

The Province's exclusive claim to title and jurisdiction to the Brown's Creek watershed has been the subject of a major legal challenge by Dan Wilson on behalf of the Okanagan Indian Band (Wilson case) this significant legal challenge has been before the courts for the last 10 years.

In spite of strong objections by the Okanagan Indian Band and the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Tolko was granted TFL 49.

Within the context of the Wilson case, the Okanagan Indian Band was granted a court-ordered Preservation Order to allow for the preservation of archaeological evidence and the mapping and documentation of cultural evidence.

While this vital archaeological evidence is being collected, Tolko made a unilateral declaration of their intent to commence clear-cut logging operations within the litigation area on October 21, 2009. In response, member communities of the Okanagan Nation Alliance have joined Chief Fabian Alexis of the Okanagan Indian Band and Chief Tim Manuel of the Upper Nicola Band in their fight to protect the Brown's Creek watershed. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and approximately 25 community members have assisted in the establishment of a check point at Bouleau Lake to monitor and manage the flow of traffic within the Brown's Creek watershed. The check-point site has been in operation for the last couple of days.

On Thursday, Tolko officials (Murray Wilson/Jim Knight) attended the check-point site and hand delivered a threatening letter from their legal counsel (Bull, Housser & Tupper-Daniel Bennett).

The letter demanded that all OKIB, UNB and ONA members immediately cease and desist from obstructing Tolko's effort to commence logging operations in the litigation area. Further, Tolko indicated they were intending on seeking an injunctive relief. When approached by Tolko representatives, there was no physical blockage of the road. Chief Alexis asked Jim Knight that Tolko respect Okanagan land, culture and watersheds and allow the elders, witnesses to continue working and mapping in the area. Today, through their legal counsel (Mandell-Pinder), OKIB, UNB, and ONA have responded to Tolko's recent legal intimidation tactics.

Based on legal discussions between legal counsels for both parties, it appears an Injunction Hearing will be held as early as November 19/20, 2009. Legal counsel for the OKIB, UNB and ONA offered to recommend that their clients 'stand down' in the event that Tolko agrees not to commence any logging activities until after the Injunction Hearing of November 19/20, 2009.

PDF COPY OF FULL CORRESPONDENCE: http://www.ubcic.bc.ca/files/PDF/ONA_BrownsCreek_102309.pdf
/For further information: Chief Fabian Alexis, Okanagan Indian Band (M) 250-306-2838; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, ONA Chairperson (M) 250-490-5314; Chief Tim Manuel, Upper Nicola Band (M) 250-378-1986/ IN: FORESTRY, JUSTICE, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chairperson, Okanagan Nation Alliance
    Primary Phone: 250-490-5314