Date set for historic land claim negotiations

Tk'emlups, federal and provincial governments decide to talk instead of go to trial

Cam Fortems / Kamloops Daily News
November 9, 2012 01:00 AM

Tk'emlups Indian Band will meet Dec. 4 with federal and provincial negotiators ready to discuss settling the band's historical land claim.

Shane Gottfriedson, chief of Tk'emlups band, confirmed Friday the band is about to enter talks on its Douglas Reserve claim.

A trial was otherwise slated to start this month, pitting the band against the two governments in a bid to increase its reserve by 55,000 hectares.

But Gottfriedson said the band, Victoria and Ottawa decided on the eve of the trial to try for a negotiated settlement.

TIB has spent decades preparing for the case and has set aside a $1-million legal fund in a bid to have its reserve enlarged. It claims its reserve extends 12 kilometres north of the confluence of the Thompson rivers and 24 kilometres east.

Some of the lands the band has claimed include property in and around Rayleigh, riverfront land on the north side of the South Thompson River and portions of what is now Sun Peaks resort.

Gottfriedson said the band's negotiation team and legal council will meet with representatives from Victoria and Ottawa. The band chief will also be involved.

He doubts serious negotiating on the claim will begin until the new year.

"What I'm encouraged about is we're entering a dialogue about outstanding land issues between the province, Canada and Tk'emlups," Gottfriedson said.

"All have an interest in sitting down and moving forward."

Gottfriedson said he doesn't yet know who in the federal and provincial governments will ultimately approve any deal. Reached Friday, MP Cathy McLeod said she has not been briefed on discussions.

In legal documents, the federal and provincial governments have denied the band's claim, saying the TIB reserve boundaries were set by a Joint Indian Reserve Commission in 1877. The band claims the larger reserve boundaries were set in 1862 by an official working under colonial governor James Douglas.

Victoria and Ottawa also argue the band lost any rights when it failed to act.

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