Trespassing charges against Penticton band members part of much larger issue, says Chief - InfoNews

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Trespassing charges against Penticton band members part of much larger issue, says Chief

Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas is pictured in this file photo. Eneas and his council issued a media release in support for three band members who entered guilty pleas for trespassing while hunting incident in January 2017.
January 29, 2019 - 4:08 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas says the guilty pleas entered by three band members in court today for trespassing on private land to hunt speak to a larger issue of unresolved land claims and unrelinquished title and rights.

Chief and council are in support of the three band members who they say acted in accordance with Sylix law and protocol under the direction of band elders, according to a Penticton Indian Band media release.

Band councillor Fred Kruger, along with band members Felix Kruger and Cole Kruger were charged with hunting on lands near Greyback Mountain Road without permission from the landowner in January 2017. The three entered guilty pleas in Penticton court today, Jan. 29, and were each handed a $500 fine.

The Chief said he understands the impact the perceived offence is having on the general community.

“We want to avoid situations like this from happening again. Our members are committed to exercising their rights, but we also want to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what that entails,” Eneas said in the release.

A decision to enter guilty pleas was made in good faith after the band tried unsuccessfully to reach an agreement with the province on protocol to address concerns related to hunting on privately held land, but was still within Sn’pinktn ancestral lands, the media release states.

“Even though the province was not prepared to enter into an agreement with us this time, we are still prepared to work together to find a way that will address these issues in a way that respects our inalienable title and rights,” Eneas said. “Our members were acting under the direction of our elders in accordance with Sylix law and protocol. We will always support their right to hunt for food and ceremonies in a safe and respectful manner on Sylix Okanagan lands.”

“By pleading guilty we do not admit that the province or private individuals are the rightful owners of the property. These lands have always been subject to the title and rights of the Sylix Okanagan Nation.”


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