Public health and safety, not exclusion, were behind a Tk’emlups First Nation decision to close a beach to non-members, Chief Fred Seymour said Friday.
Seymour said he was disappointed by some media coverage of the decision after it was initially reported earlier in the week. He said continued misuse and disrespect of the waterfront, immediately upriver from the Red Bridge, compelled the band to act.
“Given the clear disregard by partiers to the wellbeing of others, be it garbage strewn about, to open defecation, to the used needles being carelessly discarded, we are limiting the risks by resurrecting our No Trespassing signage, as our lands are private property,” Seymour said in a news release late Friday.
Initial reports generated a wave of comments at online news sites, some of which applauded the band’s move while others criticized it. Seymour said media appeared to be engaging in race-baiting and that it demonstrates the need for more accurate communication.
The band pointed to a history of respectful relations with the City of Kamloops and continued co-operation between the two local governments.
“As these lands are part of our jurisdiction, we take our responsibility very seriously to be good stewards of the land on behalf of our membership," said Rosanne Casimir, a band councillor whose portfolio includes lands. "As good neighbours, we are also making sure that we are doing our utmost to ensure a safe environment for all.”
“We’ve never operated from a place of exclusion,” she added. “This is exemplified by the Sun Rivers residential development and our Mount Paul Industrial Park that has been in operation since 1968.”