The Ktunaxa responded with disappointment to the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, which is challenging a treaty agreement between the Ktunaxa nation and the provincial government.
“The Ktunaxa Nation Council respects that the Okanagan do not wish to be a part of the treaty process,” said Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council chair. “However, the Ktunaxa are making progress in treaty negotiations and it is disappointing to have another Nation try to undermine our efforts. The Ktunaxa Nation will take appropriate steps to protect our rights and interests, but we would prefer to resolve these issues through discussion and dialogue.”
At issue is approximately 242 hectares of land near Nakusp in the Arrow Lakes region, which is part of an incremental treaty agreement that will be transferred to the Ktunaxa Nation in advance of a final treaty with the province.
Legal action was launched by the Okanagan Nation Alliance last week in regards to the overlapping claims, as Grand Chief Stewart Phillip called into question the legality of the B.C. treaty process itself, with the central issue being that First Nations have the right to protect their own property. He added that the province did not consult with the seven bands that make up the Okanagan Nation Alliance before signing the agreement.
“This is not about the Ktunaxa settling outside our territory into Okanagan territory. There is clear evidence of our people’s use and connection to the Arrow Lakes area, where these lands are located,” continued Teneese. “We respect that Okanagan have a connection to these areas as well. However, we cannot accept the viewpoint that Okanagan interests override Ktunaxa interests on this matter.
The Ktunaxa Nation Council is currently reviewing the lawsuit to determine how its interests are affected.