The Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar was one of three built as part of the Columbia River Treaty. It has had a huge impact on the Columbia River valley all the way to Revelstoke. ~ Wikimedia Creative Commons

The Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar was one of three built as part of the Columbia River Treaty. It has had a huge impact on the Columbia River valley all the way to Revelstoke. ~ Wikimedia Creative Commons

First Nations excluded from Columbia River Treaty talks

Three Indigenous groups in Southern B.C. Interior will not be involved in upcoming talks.

Three Indigenous First Nations in the southern B.C. Interior are ‘shocked’ to be excluded from upcoming renegotiations over a water storage agreement between Canada and the United States.

The Ktunaxa Nation Council, the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Shuswap Nation Council issued a joint press release expressing their disappointment in being excluded from Columbia River Treaty (CRT) talks which are set to begin between Canada and the U.S. next week.

The First Nation groups were told by the federal government last week they would not be participants in direct negotiations between the two countries.

“Our Nation has suffered profound losses to our culture and way of life as a result of the Columbia River Treaty,” said Kathryn Teneese, the chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council.

“We have been working very closely with the Syilx Okanagan, Secwepemc, Canada and BC to chart a new future for the CRT that creates positive outcomes for Indigenous Nations, the region, BC and Canada. We have to find a comprehensive and effective means to fully participate in the negotiations process in order to achieve these positive outcomes.”

The release says the treaty has had ‘massive’ impacts on the territory of the three First Nations groups that include the desecration of sacred, village and burial sites, the loss of fish populations and harvest areas and the transformation of the river into industrial water storage reservoirs.

The treaty, an agreement that went into effect in 1964, holds back 15.5 million acre-feet of water in Canada each year for flood control and power generation — an estimated dollar value of $3 billion USD.

Four hydroelectric dams were built under the agreement, which was signed between Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. The Duncan dam, the Mica dam and the Keenleyside dam are on the Canadian side, while the Libby Dam was built in the U.S.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and chair of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, called out foreign minister Chrystia Freeland for the decision to exclude Indigenous groups from the negotiating table.

“This completely unexpected and shocking unilateral decision by Minister Freeland to exclude Indigenous Nations is an act of absolute treachery,” Stewart said. “Canada has begun to replicate the aggressively destructive behaviour of President Trump against Indigenous Nations.

“This is a fundamental betrayal of our three Nations’ Indigenous Rights; it undermines recognition and threatens the reconciliation path that Prime Minister Trudeau has so boldly championed. I’m genuinely afraid for Canada’s future economic stability if Canada lacks the courage to stand by its convictions and can so easily disregard its commitments to Indigenous Peoples.”

Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, Chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, said the Secwepemc Nation has worked collaboratively with Canada on CRT matters to date.

“This exclusion represents another of Prime Minister Trudeau’s lies to the world about reconciliation,” said Christian. “The Secwepemc Nation must be involved in all decisions about Secwepemc Territory.”

The three First Nation groups cite the federal government’s commitment to reconciliation and a renewed relationship of respect based the Ten Reconciliation Principles that was released in July 2017.

Those principles included recognizing Indigenous peoples right to self-government, honourable conduct by the Crown in all dealings with Indigenous peoples and meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples when the Crown proposes action on traditional territories.

Those principles were followed by statements from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons on Feb. 18, 2018, that referenced the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), according to the joint press release.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Vernon Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Vernon Search and Rescue responds after family gets UTV stuck on SilverStar trails

The family activated their SOS beacon around 3 p.m. once they realized they could be facing a night alone in the mountains

Maggie Rodwell and Peter Molnar begin their trek at 2020's Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet hosted by the Larch Hills Nordic Society. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, a more leisurely virtual event is planned for 2021. (File photo)
More leisurely event planned for 2021 iteration of popular Salmon Arm loppet

Virtual Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet allows skiers to enjoy loppet routes at own pace

Benjamin Cashion, left, the first baby born at Shuswap Lake General Hospital in 2021, is already taking to his older brother Liam. (Submitted)
Newcomers to Shuswap welcome Salmon Arm hospital’s first baby of 2021

The Cashion family’s newest son Benjamin was born on Jan. 8.

(Photo: Pixabay)
Enderby chamber proposes new rural e-business training program

The program would help rural-area businesses expand using online tools and insights

Signs in Homer, Alaska, offer inspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Michael Armstrong-Homer News)
COLUMN: COVID-19 pandemic hits home

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Vernon’s Heron Grove retirement facility. (Good Samaritan Society photo)
Resident of Vernon’s Heron Grove retirement home tests positive for COVID-19

Interior Health has not declared an outbreak at the facility

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

Dastkar, a new furniture store in Vernon, features handmade, unique furniture carved from wood and inlaid with brass in the Chiniot style. The business located on 43rd Avenue was started in December 2020 but is currently unstaffed due to COVID-19 staffing shortages. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Vernon’s hidden handmade furniture store

Owners of Shahi Pakwan Indian restaurant opened the South Asian furniture store in December 2020

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Most Read