COUNCIL OF CANADIANS--
Help defend the Browns Creek watershed: the Okanagan Indian Band
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
The Okanagan Indian Band has set up a road blockade near Bouleau Lake to stop Tolko Industries from logging in the Browns Creek watershed area near Vernon, British Columbia.
The Okanagan Indian Band is concerned that the logging will threaten their water supply and archeological sites. They insist that the logging should not take place while land claims remain unresolved.
Chief Fabian Alexis says, “The federal government has done nothing to protect the 1,800 people who live on the Okanagan Indian Band reserve. The provincial government has made it clear that the financial interests of Tolko are of greater concern to them than the health and safety of the people who derive their drinking and irrigation water from the Browns Creek watershed. When it comes to protecting watersheds that supply Vernon with its water, government agencies would not hesitate to act, but suddenly when it involves our community, our concerns are discounted. This systemic racism will not stand.”
National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations says, “I would like to offer my support to Chief Fabian Alexis and the members of the Okanagan Indian Band in their efforts to protect their community’s water supply.”
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says, “The UBCIC fully supports the Okanagan Indian Band’s decision to protect their community’s water supply… I received a letter from Minister Pat Bell that makes it clear that the safety of the drinking water that supplies most of the 1800 people who live on the Okanagan Indian Band reserve is not as important to him as facilitating short term profits for Tolko.”
The BC Supreme Court gave permission for the logging to proceed provided the archeological sites were protected in a February 1 ruling. Tolko is now going to court to seek an enforcement order on the logging permits that have been issued to them.
Chief Alexis is asking that members of the general public help by calling their MLAs and MPs to express their support. Supporters have also been invited to attend the blockade.
To find the contact information for your federal representative (and for those in BC your provincial representative), go to the Council of Canadians website at http://www.canadians.org/action/contact_reps.html.