April 23, 2015 - 10:05 AM
The Chief and Council of the Okanagan Indian Band have taken out a two-page advertisement in the Lake Country Calendar to clear any misconceptions Lake Country Voters may have. The action is part of a campaign to provide all parties “Just the Facts.”
“Two OKIB staff attended the proponents of the ‘yes’ vote last Monday and from their report to our council, this advertisement is warranted, said Chief Byron Louis, “We’re saying these are key facts of our legal action that the public should be aware of.”
The contents of the ad are meant to provide an overview of the OKIB’s claim to the Commonage Rail Corridor:
1. Commonage Rail Corridor is a portion of the land allotted to the OKIB by the Joint Indian Reserve Commission (JIRC) in 1877.
2. Between 1886 and 1893 Canada and British Columbia purported to relinquish the OKIB’s interest in the lands, but did not abide by the governing rules, including the Indian Act as required.
3. As the Indian Act was not followed, the actions of Canada and British Columbia were of no force of effect. As a result, the interest of the OKIB, particularly to the land the rail corridor was built on, continued at law.
4. The corridor lands obtained by CNR, or any of its predecessors, were subject to reserve interests of OKIB
5. Pursuant to legislation and common law, the rights acquired by CNR or it’s predecessor were limited to the use of the corridor for railway purposes only.
6. When KPR went bankrupt and CNR decided to abandon the entire rail corridor, the Commonage Rail Corridor (like the Duck Lake portion) should have reverted to reserve land.
7. Legal cases support that lands obtained for railways through Indian Reserves revert back to reserve status when their railway use comes to an end.
8. If the lands were to revert to reserve, as they should have, the Commonage Rail Corridor does not belong to CNR, therefore CNR cannot sell it.?
Chief Louis added that the OKIB has received unfiled responses to the OKIB’s Notice of Civil Claim filed on March 24th and have referred the documents to their legal team at Ratcliff and Company.
“Of course the other parties have to deny our claim,” said Chief Louis, “It’s difficult to deny the fact the Commonage Reserve, where the Commonage rail corridor is, was created in 1877 by the Joint Indian Reserve Commission, the commission created to “finally fix and determine” Indian reserves.”
When asked why the OKIB only ran the advertisement in the Lake Country Calendar, Chief Louis reiterated that the advertisement was in response to what OKIB staff felt was incomplete information shared at a yes rally.
“We haven’t heard much from Mayor Basran on this topic,” said Chief Louis, “Even Doug Gilchrist has remained mum.”
For more information on the “Just The Facts” visit the OKIB’s website www.okib.ca/commonage or Facebook page www.facebook.com/okanaganband
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015