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Controversial referendum on ancestral Splatsin burial site called off

Splatsin members rally outside the band office July 7, 2016.
Image Credit: Aaron Leon
July 15, 2016 - 1:30 PM

ENDERBY - The voices of the elders have been heard.

Splatsin First Nation chief and council announced this morning, July 15, that tomorrow’s referendum on a $300,000 settlement for a historical burial site is officially being called off.

Councillor George Williams says the decision to postpone the vote was made to ensure the voices of all band members are heard.

“We need to listen to our people,” Williams says. “If it means making time for our people so they can get the right answers and correct information, chief and council’s wishes are to make sure that happens.”

Splatsin member Jody Leon says she’s relieved at the news.

“It’s been acknowledged that the elders are knowledge keepers and this is their traditional and spiritual role,” Leon says. “It’s not them versus council; it’s them being here to support our leadership.”

It is unknown whether the referendum will be rescheduled, or if further settlement negotiations will be pursued.

“We’ll continue to go forward and make it very known that the land needs to be protected,” Leon says. “We want the ancestors returned to us.”

Speaking personally, Councillor Williams says it’s become clear to him the government process laid out for land claims is not in the best interest of the people.

“It’s not our way of doing business,” Williams says. “We have to follow their guidelines and timeframes and it does not fit our community.”

He says the timelines laid out in the process are too rushed and do not provide enough time for consultation with the community.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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