Time to reframe relations with local native bands

When will all the injustices to our aboriginal neighbours end?

I would like to comment on the Dec. 5 article in the Observer, entitled, Neskonlith discontinue appeal. I believe the article has two major misconceptions, the first being that the Neskonlith appeal was responsible for the delay in construction on the SmartCentres site.

The major holdup appears to be related to complications along the highway posed by building at that location. In spite of the 2,400-page treatise submitted to the Ministry of Transport by SmartCentres two years ago, and scads of correspondence since then, the ministry has not yet given any form of approval for this contentious location.

One can only speculate that their concerns may in fact correspond with some of the Neskonlith’s.

The second misconception is in a quote by Mayor Cooper when she said, “We felt it was our fiduciary responsibility to recoup whatever costs we could as paid for by taxpayers’ money.”

This statement contains two faulty assumptions. One is that the taxpayers were privy to the obvious mishandling of the Neskonlith’s attempts to be included in meaningful consultation regarding developments that might affect their land or way of life. This court case could have been eliminated altogether had the council and city staff of that time been reasonably willing to include Neskonlith in these crucial talks and proposals.

Secondly, a number of these “taxpayers” from Salmon Arm were sufficiently opposed to the treatment of this financially challenged reserve that they donated generously to help them seek justice. Perhaps council should ask the citizens to vote on this ‘insult-to-injury’ decision before going ahead with this travesty.

When will all the injustices to our aboriginal neighbours end?

Fortuitously, we have another opportunity here in this small community to strive for a real partnership, and at long last begin the healing process.

 

Duncan Morris

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