Press Release - February 25, 2010
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs stated, “Tolko Industries will be in court today seeking an enforcement order to remove Elders, band members, supporters and Chiefs from Brown’s Creek. The Brown’s Creek watershed contains archaeological sites and is the source of drinking water for the Okanagan Indian Band. Rather than listening to the serious concerns of the Okanagan Indian Band, Tolko’s actions have only served to increase the tension of this volatile situation.”
Last Saturday, the Okanagan Indian Band held an emergency General Band Meeting where Elders and band members unanimously passed a motion to establish check-points to stop all Tolko employees, contract logging crews and equipment from passage over and through Westside Road and authorized the establishment of a blockade in the Brown's Creek Watershed to protect their community’s water supply, their archaeological heritage and their Title and Rights.
“Earlier this week, Tolko officials arrived at the blockade asked community members a number of scripted questions. They carefully recorded responses and took quite a few pictures. As I understand, all of this information was incorporated into affidavits and will be brought forward to the Courts today” said Grand Chief Phillip. “However, due to the court slowdown due to the Olympics, Tolko may not succeed in securing a judge to hear the matter and this situation may escalate for another week or two.”
The watershed is part of ongoing litigation between the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Okanagan Indian Band and Tolko Industries. The Courts recently accepted Tolko’s proposal to protect archaeological sites and had previously ruled that Tolko could log in the Browns Creek Watershed.
Grand Chief Phillip concluded, “The Courts failed the people and have awarded industry. The interests of industry trump all others. In time, the Courts may grant an enforcement order and it will be up to the RCMP on how to resolve this situation in a peaceful and respectful manner. The UBCIC fully supports the Okanagan Indian Band to ensure their community’s water, history and rights are protected.”
– 30 –
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (604) 684-0231
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.