Okanagan Nation Alliance

November 26, 2009 14:22 ET

Okanagan Nation Concludes Injunction Application Against Tolko

Okanagan Nation Concludes Injunction Application Against Tolko Industries Ltd

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor WESTBANK, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2009) - The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) appeared in BC Supreme Court last week seeking an injunction to stop Tolko Industries Ltd. from proceeding with industrial logging plans in the Browns Creek Watersheds. The ONA also defended against a counter injunction application brought by Tolko where the company seeks to prevent interference with its harvesting activities in the Browns Creek Watersheds.

In response to Tolko's plans to initiate industrial logging operations in the Browns Creek Watershed on October 21, 2009, the ONA set up camps at Bouleau Lake. Tolko attempted to bring heavy equipment in the area to commence its industrial logging operations and were met by Okanagan Nation members requesting that Tolko respect the Okanagan Nation's connection to the land.

The BC Supreme Court heard three (3) days of submissions from both parties. The ONA argued that Tolko is trespassing and interfering with the Okanagan Nation's rights in the Watersheds that includes a right admitted by the Province to harvest trees for domestic uses. The ONA explained to the Court the harm that Tolko's clearcut logging will do to the watersheds and Okanagan Nation rights, including hydrological impacts that could lead to flooding of the Okanagan Indian Band community and damage to their water sources and to the fisheries in the watersheds. The logging would also prevent the completion of evidence-gathering to prove Okanagan Nation Aboriginal Title. In a case that has been on-going for over a decade, the Court issued a preservation order that allows for the gathering of evidence for Aboriginal Title in the Watersheds. The issue of Aboriginal Title directly addresses ownership and jurisdiction of the resources within the litigation area.

The Browns Creek Watershed (located outside of Vernon, BC) is a sacred area of the Okanagan Nation and is also an area that is important for hunting, fishing and gathering plants for medicine, food and materials. The area contains archaeological and other evidence important for establishing the Okanagan Nation's Aboriginal Title. The ONA presented the Court with evidence that demonstrated the importance of the Watersheds to the Okanagan Nation. The evidence also demonstrated Tolko's disregard and lack of recognition for the Okanagan Nation's relationship to the Watersheds in its various plans.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance stated "In light of the provincial government's refusal to engage Aboriginal Title through the decade old Wilson case," Grand Chief Phillip further stated "We have no choice but to defend the integrity of our Aboriginal Title within the Browns Creek Watershed by all legal means necessary".

Chief Fabian Alexis of the Okanagan Indian Band stated "If Tolko does obtain its injunction; this will seriously impact the Wilson case". Chief Alexis concluded by stating "I hope the judge makes the right decision on this matter. The Okanagan Nation will continue to defend our lands".

The BC Supreme Court is expected to issue a judgment with written reasons on December 4, 2009. In the meantime, Tolko has not agreed to refrain from logging until that decision and instead has moved more equipment into the area in the last few days.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance is a political organization representing the seven (7) Okanagan bands with a mandate to protect and advocate for Okanagan Title, Rights and Lands.
/For further information: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, ONA – (250) 490-5314; Chief Fabian Alexis, OKIB – (250) 306-2838

Contact Information

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