Extensive flooding has closed the
In-SHUCK-ch Forest Services Road (FSR) for the second time this year, leaving
many residents of the First Nations community stranded and complicating funeral
arrangements for a local elder.
Gerard Peters, In-SHUCK-ch chief
negotiator, said it is always an issue when the road is impassable, but it is
particularly troubling this time.
“One of the elders in my community
has just passed away. The thing is we’ve got to get him home, and it’s causing
all kinds of concern among the community, especially among the elders, that we
can’t take care of our dead.”
Logging companies use the FSR to haul
timber, and approximately 250 members of the In-SHUCK-ch Nation live along the
road, which parallels Lillooet Lake and runs south to Harrison Lake.
Peters said he has been trying to
call attention to the poor condition of the FSR for years now, but it is now
time for change.
At a Tuesday meeting with provincial
and federal chief negotiators, Peters officially identified the FSR as a treaty
“…The roads and its needs for
improvement must now be addressed in the context of treaty negotiations,
because I’m not getting any movement anywhere else,” Peters said.
He said local government has done all
they can to deal with the intermittent road closures, and now it’s time higher
levels of government got involved.
“I think that it’s necessary for
Canada to step up to the plate, as well as B.C., to ensure safe travel,” said
“Canada has a fiduciary responsibility
for looking after the interests of Indians.”
Samahquam Chief Keith Smith has lived
off the In-SHUCK-ch Forest Services Road, in the Baptiste Smith region, for
most of his life. Smith said the severity of flooding varies from year to year,
but this year, higher snow pack and recent hot temperatures have caused water
levels to rise rapidly.
He managed to travel the road Monday
morning, leaving the community at 6 a.m., about three hours before the road was
“I have a four wheel drive, so I was
relatively high enough,” said Smith. “It still came over my bumper.”