A historic land use planning agreement signed by the In-SHUCK-ch First Nations and the Province of B.C. creates new cultural management areas and three new land conservancies in the First Nations’ traditional territories.
The agreement, signed Friday in Pemberton, is not a treaty but reflects the type of land uses the In-SHUCK-ch would like to see in a treaty. The In-SHUCK-ch Nation will be active partners with the province in the land management plan.
“This is a tool that we can utilize for ourselves to move forward,” said Chief Darryl Peters of the Douglas First Nation. “We’re involved in many different processes and with this agreement that we have we can use it as a very important tool to help ourselves move forward.”
Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell, who signed the agreement with the three In-SHUCK-ch chiefs, said the agreement is important because it’s in such a highly contentious area.
“It’s an area that there are overlapping interests, different users, it’s very close to the major population centre. And I think it’s critical that we create a set of rules that people understand, so that there’s orderly development of In-SHUCK-ch territory — and that In-SHUCK-ch First Nations get the benefit from that development,” Bell said.
The In-SHUCK-ch Nation’s traditional territories run down the east side of Garibaldi Provincial Park, on the lower Lillooet River between Lillooet Lake and Harrison Lake. A rough gravel road links the three In-SHUCK-ch communities, Douglas, Skatin and Samahquam, with Pemberton and the Fraser Valley.
The agreement, which has been more than a year in the making, divides the In-SHUCK-ch traditional territories into zones, including an integrated forest management zone, a wildland zone, cultural management areas, future conservancies and existing parks and protected areas. The agreement covers the eastern portion of the much larger Sea-to-Sky Land and Resource Management Plan and forms part of the Sea-to-Sky LRMP.
“Historically, from our point of view and our territory, we have a vast amount of resources in there and we always need to be mindful of the extraction of it and how we’re going to do it and the consultations that have to happen with those things are very important to us,” said Chief Keith Smith of the Samahquam Nation.
“We’ve always lived off the land, for a long time, we’ve always put back what we’ve taken. And this helps us be more concise and more mindful of (that) both from our point of view in our territory, and as well as the province’s,” Smith added.
While the In-SHUCK-ch traditional territory is rich in natural resources and is relatively close to Whistler, Pemberton and the Lower Mainland, it is rugged, remote terrain. B.C. Hydro power lines run through the valley but the In-SHUCK-ch communities are off the power grid. They get most of their electricity from diesel generators.
A proper, paved road, run-of-river hydro projects and log home building are some of the economic keys to In-SHUCK-ch’s future.
Bell said what is historic about the agreement, from his point of view, was the leadership shown by the In-SHUCK-ch.
“It’s very easy to say no. No is always an easy answer to get when you look at uses of the land and traditional uses of the land,” Bell said.
“But I think these three gentlemen have shown tremendous leadership by saying yes, and by saying let’s move forward, let’s find a way to have orderly development in our traditional territories. Work together to see independent power projects be successful. Work together to create a future for their children and their grandchildren.
“So, for me, that’s kind of the historic piece of this. It takes leadership to say yes. It doesn’t take leadership to say no. And these gentlemen have, I think, taken the very bold step in saying yes.”
The agreement establishes a new conservancy in upper Rogers Creek, adjacent to the Stein Valley Provincial Park; establishes a 30 ha conservancy in lower Douglas Creek, with the balance of lower Douglas Creek available for integrated resource management; Designates a new wildland zone in upper Douglas Creek where mining and tourism are permitted but commercial forestry is not; recognizes 11 cultural sites important to the In-SHUCK-ch Nation and assures management of these sites in a sensitive manner.