Old growth forest initiative checked by aboriginal title issues

A local government initiative to protect Vancouver Island’s old growth forests may have been checked by aboriginal title issues. 

(Subsequent addition: The Capital Regional District will consider a revised motion on May 26th.)

Territory of Pacheedaht First Nation

The controversial Fairy Creek logging blockade is within the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation, which has ”secured commitments from tenure holders and the government of BC to suspend operations.” They are  strongly urging outsiders to “show an appropriate level of respect to the sovereignty and wishes of our nation” and “respect our desire for self-determination.”

Local government initiative

Prior to this, the Comox Valley Regional District, and municipalities of Powell River, Courtenay, Cumberland, Lantzville, Nanaimo, Port Renfrew, Metchosin, Colwood, Victoria and Port Moody all passed resolutions requesting the province defer logging in old-growth forests until the recommendations of the province’s Old Growth Strategic Review have been implemented. (See links below)

While it has not yet had time to respond, some local residents have asked the Strathcona Regional District Board to follow suit.

A similar motion was on the agenda of the Capital Regional District (CRD) Wednesday, but the Pacheedaht “strongly encouraged CRD to continue to focus on policy, planning and service delivery, and to work with our Nation and the nearby communities on priority matters within CRD jurisdiction.” 

Unsolicited interference not welcome

Their memorandum summarized three key points from a letter message the Pacheedaht sent the CRD a month earlier: 

  1. “Pacheedaht First Nation is concerned that third-party interference on our Nation’s interests and affairs including resource stewardship is polarizing and harming our community, and we have asked for it to cease.” 
  2. “Pacheedaht is conducting an inclusive Integrated Resource Stewardship Plan (IRSP) involving our entire community to guide the future management of our Traditional Territory.” 
  3. “Pacheedaht does not welcome unsolicited interference or involvement from others.”

In closing, the memo states, “In the event that Pacheedaht First Nation determines at some point in the future that our Nation would benefit from increased involvement from CRD in the stewardship of our Traditional Territory, we will contact you.”

At the CRD Meeting

The CRD has not yet published the minutes of their May 12th meeting, but a CTV news reporter noted that of 2:35 PM it had not been discussed.

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