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Just thought you might be curious as to what my daughter got out of what you wrote. I regret to say an article we found on last summers blockades also made quite an impact. I hope you are not too disappointed. And I hope you don't mind the "quotes" that have not been credited--that is still how she does research. Be assured you have helped me understand--and I think she does to a large extent--but doesn't always express it quite the way she means. Anyway here is a copy of her report.

Who Owns It?

The issue of native land claims in British Columbia

The Natives want their land! British Columbia is the only Canadian province that has never signed a treaty with the Native bands that lived on the land when we arrived. We have just taken over. Now the Natives are claiming their rights to the land. The 43 land claims that are now outstanding cover more surface area than there is in British Columbia. This land was, and legally still is, theirs.

They are not trying to push us out of B.C. but they are trying to protect the land and their right to it. They want to live on their land, and they want us to understand that it is their land. If we want to use it to live on or use its resources, we should negotiate and pay them. It is their land they should have a say in what happens to it. We should also pay them for what we have already taken.

For the last 25 years these people have been trying to talk with us, to figure out what is fair. We have not been listening. This has been very frustrating for the natives. Given the lack of results, some are starting to go the more radical and violent way. The natives have put up blockades. Last summer they blocked off many roads. Why? To push their point. Blockades have worked. The members of the Upper Nicola Indian band mounted illegal blockades of three points on roads leading to Douglas Ranch, west of Kelowna, to protest against the arrest of six natives for netting trout on one of the ranch's private lakes. Those blockades came down after it was agreed to negotiate aboriginal fishing rights. No charges were laid against the natives. That's not all the natives are doing. Carole Cowan, a retired woman who lived 60 km out of Kamloops B.C. was wakened one night to Drumbeats. An unidentified armed native was pointing a gun to her son's head! "I never used to be prejudiced," she says, "I'm afraid I am now."

So what if the natives get what they want? All the people in Vancouver and Victoria that thought they owned houses might suddenly find that their titles were illegal and invalid--you can imagine the kaffufle that would cause. In the same way none of the logging licenses, mining licenses or oil licenses etc. in B.C. would be valid. It's a tight corner we've painted ourselves into. Not only that but the courts could also say we have to pay the natives for all the trees, water, minerals, and oil we have taken from what is legally their land.

So, how do we buy a province from these natives without acknowledging that it is theirs? Maybe we could negotiate. Maybe we could let them have some of the land and/or more say in the use of the land and its resources. It is legally theirs so they should get some say. Maybe we could pay at least something for all we have taken from the land. We are lucky to have any land so why not share. Don't we learn that in kindergarten?

We have been unfair. Still violence and force such as seen at the blockades is unnecessary. We need to work it out. Remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have done to you.

By Cara Baergen

Some things that obviously need correction:

  1. There are more than 43 land claims active in BC. I believe that the total is over 100 ( the number 110 comes to mind). 43 is either the number of bands that have entered onto the treaty commission process or the number that have refused to enter into it (real useful right??). There are very good reasons for both entering and and refusing the process.
  2. Some bands have been trying to negotiate treatys for far more than 25 years. The lubicon almost signed a treaty in the late 1800s, but the government kinda dropped them out of the process. The latest ROUND for the lubicon has been going on for 35-40 years. The early '70s is when the courts gave the government some extra reason to (appear to) take the treaty process seriously.

About the Author

Cara is an almost 11 year old who loves to figure skate. She is currently in a combined year 5/6 academic challenge class. This article was written in reponse to an assignment to discuss an issue of the cordillera region of Canada--which includes British Columbia and parts of Alberta (the cordillera also extends into the United States but that was not her assignment). This topic was chosen because land claims affect pretty much the whole region, its resources and its people. The future of the region may be determined by the handling of these claims. She became quite indignant at the injustices done by the "white" but also the violence of some of the protests of "the natives". It was a great learning process for her.
Author: Cara Baergen
Corrections: Stephen Samuel (
Curator: Stephen Samuel (
Written: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 Last Updated: Sun Mar 17 1996
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