Aboriginal band asks premier to get them a fair shake

Skeetchestn leaders are asking Premier Gordon Campbell to personally intervene so their people can get fair shake from companies operating on the aboriginal band's lands. In an earlier opinion piece, published in The Vancouver Sun, Chief Rick Deneault wrote his community is being "cut to pieces" by those companies, which have been using those lands "as a staging ground for the economic benefit of others." As a result, Mr. Deneault - writing for the band's councillors - stated the firms "will be receiving letters from us, advising them to tell their customers to expect possible service interruptions regarding their operations in our traditional lands." Nevertheless, the chief added, "We hope there is talk...because a little talk and genuine consultation with us will go a long, long, way to settling everyone the right path toward mutual benefit." Indeed, in a letter sent to the premier and obtained by Public Eye, Mr. Deneault reiterated that point, reminding Mr. Campbell of his promise to "forge a new relationship with First Nations."

But by that time that promise filtered down to the Skeetchestn people "it had reverted to the tired and discredited bureaucratic practice of asking us for an opinion and then ignoring everything we say."

"We cannot continue this way," the chief stated, adding the "one-sided" relationship between the band and the companies operating on its land "has been going on for too many years."

As a result, Mr. Deneault has asked premier to "encourage the BC Liberal leadership candidates, the companies and corporations identified in our opinion pieces, and the ministries and agencies of the BC government to work with us to settle these matters."

"In the interest of fairness and certainty, and for the survival of our community, we ask for your leadership and your intervention."

Similar letters have also been sent to Liberal leadership candidates, as well as companies operating on Skeetchestn land. The following are complete copies.

Skeetchestn Indian Band letters

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