Okanagan Nation demands halt of logging old-growth forests on Syilx territory
August 26, 2022 By CFI Staff
The Syilx Okanagan Nation insists that the British Columbian government protect old growth forest throughout their territory, including the area around snkxy̌ kntn.
In a statement, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) said that despite the commitments made by B.C. to defer the development of old growth forests, the government continues to approve cutting permits in critical caribou habitat and some of the last intact inland temperate rainforest in the province.
“Despite having clear recommendations from an expert advisory panel, held up by B.C. as key to the success of their own Old Growth Strategic Review process, B.C. is continuing to approve development of old-growth in the snkxy̌ kntn (Revelstoke) area on the basis that First Nations have not come to consensus on the old growth deferral areas,” the statement reads.
The alliance claims that the province’s continued failure to protect these forests, particularly through the ongoing authorization of the harvesting of old-growth forests, is disturbing and has already led to the regional extinction of key species, like southern mountain caribou. It further stated that the province’s justification for old growth deforestation is based on false assumptions regarding a lack of consensus by First Nations on the need to protect these forests and endangered ecosystems.
Here is the rest of the statement:
“To clarify, the Syilx Okanagan Nation does not, in any way, oppose the protection and conservation of these ecosystems for the generations to come. What we opposed is the lack of meaningful engagement with the Syilx Okanagan Nation to determine how the protection of these forests should take place in our territory. Furthermore, in July 2022, the Selkirk Natural Resource District provided the ONA with a set of options, developed by licensees in the Revelstoke area, that allow for the continued harvest of old-growth forests. These options do not include adequate protections for old forests, caribou, and the many other values on our territory.
“The province’s failure to protect old-growth forests and critical caribou habitat has direct adverse impacts on our ability to maintain our culture and exercise our title and rights. It has resulted in the extinction and near-extinction of species that we have always relied on for food, social and ceremonial purposes, including southern mountain caribou. We have no reason to believe that B.C. intends to change their approach significantly enough to secure a thriving Southern Mountain Caribou population. Further, we are confident that B.C. is not able to rationalize their continued infringement on Syilx rights. This approach the province cannot infringe our constitutionally protected rights without justification, or make decisions which will effectively extinguish those rights.” y̓ilm̓ ixwm Byron Louis, Okanagan Indian Band, states.
As such, the ONA require that the province halt the cutting of old growth forests on Syilx territory, and meet with our leadership to determine a fulsome criteria for the issuance of cutting permits and protection of forests.”
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