Water decisions need to include native bands: Chief Robert Edward

Native bands need to be included in watershed discussions. Chief Robert Edward, environment co-ordinator Tracy Lawlor and resource director Gwen Bridge made their point clear to the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen board Thursday.

PENTICTON — The Lower Similkameen Indian Band put their foot down and told the region they will be included in watershed discussions.

Chief Robert Edward, resource director Gwen Bridge and environment co-ordinator Tracy Lawlor made their view clear to the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen board Thursday.

The three said the band and the board need to work together on a watershed plan to better protect water sources. The band brings its own experience to the table and wants involvement on research, water quality and effects of climate change.

They made it clear a letter of agreement needs to be signed.

"In the past our people weren't included," Edward said. "You are going to have us at the table."

He said the decisions made at the board affects everyone. "Your decisions here and at other tables impact our ability to gather our foods, and medicines and our sacred places."

For the band it's not about making money off the water supply. It's about the water itself.

"We want to be part of that decision making process."

Many on the board gave words of encouragement and appreciated the chief's words.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at squesnel@infotelnews.ca, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1


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