From left, Gayle Frank with Urban Systems, Neskonlith councillor Joan Hooper, Rock Deneault, Randy Sam, Neskonlith councillor Brad Arnouse, consultant Colin O’Leary, Elaine Shibata with the transportation ministry and Gerry Thomas, all members of the team working on the land use plan in connection with the Ministry of Transportation four-laning project between Switsemalph IR#3 and First Avenue NW, were present at an open house held Dec. 11 at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort regarding the project. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

From left, Gayle Frank with Urban Systems, Neskonlith councillor Joan Hooper, Rock Deneault, Randy Sam, Neskonlith councillor Brad Arnouse, consultant Colin O’Leary, Elaine Shibata with the transportation ministry and Gerry Thomas, all members of the team working on the land use plan in connection with the Ministry of Transportation four-laning project between Switsemalph IR#3 and First Avenue NW, were present at an open house held Dec. 11 at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort regarding the project. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Trans-Canada Highway four-laning project in Shuswap holds promise for First Nations

Much planning and consultation to be done before vote is taken on project

“It’s a lot of hard work but it’s really worthwhile. It’s going to mean something for our community to have that chance instead of all the traffic going by us, to actually have economic opportunities in our community for the first time.”

With these words, Neskonlith councillor Joan Hooper refers to the third phase of the Salmon Arm West four-laning project, which would involve going through reserve land.

“We only had one gas station so far, so this is like, everybody is dreaming what they want on their properties, and the band properties. It’s pretty exciting. Who knows?”

Unlike the building of the Trans-Canada Highway when First Nations had no say, this time things are different. Several community consultation meetings and open houses have been held, the most recent on Dec. 11. Along with Secwepemc representatives, the team includes land use planners and a project management company.

The atmosphere on Dec. 11 was upbeat, jovial.

Read more: 2017 – Plans for four-laning project meet mostly with approval

Read more: Preloading for Salmon Arm West project to begin early 2019

Hooper has been working for several years with the highways ministry to engage band members on what the full four-laning project, which goes through the band’s reserves in both the Chase and Salmon Arm areas, can mean to them as a community.

“It’s been going well, really well. We wanted to take the opportunity to plan and plan well,” she says.

“At the end of it all, two or three years from now, or four years or possibly five years, until we’re done our full engagement and everybody knows exactly what the project is, it’ll come to a vote. Members will have a chance again to say whether they want the project. It’s not just a chief and council decision, it’s really going to be vetted well by our community.”

When Gerry Thomas speaks about his job as part of the Secwepemc team, he tells the story of Coyote and Buffalo.

The story, much more detailed and animated when he tells it, begins with Coyote running and playing. He suddenly notices he’s left the mountains far behind.

He also notices how hungry he is. He spots some bones and picks one up, licks it, bites into it and tastes the marrow. When he’s done he tosses it aside. He does this with another and another.

Behind him, he notices a cloud of dust in the distance coming towards him. When it gets closer, he realizes it’s Buffalo. All of a sudden Buffalo runs right over him and Coyote yelps in pain. Then Buffalo runs over him from three more directions.

Coyote asks why he’s doing this.

In reply, Buffalo asks, “Why are you doing that to our people? You’re kicking our people, throwing them around. We don’t do that, we don’t run over them, we go around them. You’re upsetting me, you’re upsetting my people we lost a long time ago.

Read more: Highway upgrades west of Chase to be tendered by the end of the year

Read more: Salmon Arm won’t lose a bridge during four-laning project

Buffalo asks Coyote to come a little closer. At that time, coyotes had long beards. When Coyote comes over, Buffalo grabs his beard, pulls it off and hangs it in a tree. He tells Coyote next time he sees the beard in the tree, “you’ll think about what you did to my people and you’ll go around them.”

Thomas explains that’s why Old Man’s Beard can be seen on trees to this day.

He says this is a message he has emphasized – an archaeological dig would have to be done before work on the Trans-Canada Highway is done. Not like last time when First Nations weren’t consulted.

This time things are different; this time he’s happy with the process.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

 

Gerry Thomas stands with Bear and Coyote next to a collection of baskets, beading and more made by his mother and grandmother. Thomas was part of an open house at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort where local First Nations, consultants and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff met to discuss plans for the four-laning project between IR#3 and First Avenue NW. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Gerry Thomas stands with Bear and Coyote next to a collection of baskets, beading and more made by his mother and grandmother. Thomas was part of an open house at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort where local First Nations, consultants and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff met to discuss plans for the four-laning project between IR#3 and First Avenue NW. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two seperate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

The District of Sicamous is trying to take over management of the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre . (File Photo)
District of Sicamous seeks management contract for hockey arena

The arena has been managed by a non-profit society since it was built in the early 1980s.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers’ group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jesse Johnston)
Poll: Care to spread your feelings on butter?

Reports of hard butter have rattled the Canadian dairy industry

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band had words of praise for the consultation between her people and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on an ongoing highway project. (Black Press file photo)
Collaboration on Shuswap highway project receives national award

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says expansion will open new economic opportunities for the band

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

(HelloKelowna - Twitter)
West Kelowna billboard bearing anti-vaccine messaging deemed misleading

Ad Standards investigated the billboard, noting a lack of evidence to support the messaging

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Most Read