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Nothing wrong with Band's beach ban

August 26, 2016 4:33 A.M.
(CFJC TV image)

A NewsKamloops editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IS IT RASCISM when one ethnic group tells another it’s not welcome, for any reason?

The question was raised this week in response to a news report that the Tk’emlups te Secwepmc (also known as the Tk’emlups Indian Band) has posted signage declaring that the beach between the Red Bridge and the Silver Sage Trailer Park is available only to Band members.

The CFJC-TV report said the Band took the step because the beach has been littered with garbage, including drug needles.

It’s not the first time the Band has yanked the welcome mat. Some 16 years ago, the Band withdrew its support for the Rivers Trail project, citing reluctance by its members to allow non-members to walk on the part of the trail that was supposed to be constructed on reserve land.

Construction on the overall project was well underway, including an expensive pedestrian crossing on the Yellowhead Bridge, which now leads pretty much nowhere.

On another occasion, the Band obtained grant money to build a hiking trail at the base of Mount Paul, but it required non-band members to seek permission from the Band office before using it.

What if the shoe were on the other foot, some people have asked? For example, the beach along Schubert Drive has been in the news recently for the garbage and drug paraphernalia that is making it hazardous for regular folks. What if non-City residents were banned from the area?

It would, of course, be ridiculous. To extend the analogy, what if Band members specifically were banned? That would be even more ridiculous and would quickly be labeled as racist.

Racism exists in all ethnicities, but to call the Band’s action in banning non-members from the beach racist fails to take into consideration its context.

The Tk’emlups band has a few hundred members as opposed to the 86,000-plus residents in Kamloops. Their challenges are not comparable. First Nations people everywhere are struggling to protect (regain, even) their cultural heritage, keep their very languages from disappearing, meanwhile dealing with serious economic and internal social issues.

Given the big picture it’s not unreasonable for the band to try to protect the beach by restricting who uses it.

When someone comes into your home and spills something on you’re carpet, you have a right to ask them to leave. That’s really all the Band is doing.

Got an opinion? Leave a comment here or write to letters@newskamloops.com.

Erin says:
August 26, 2016 09:23pm

Like it or not it is private property and they have the right to deny access to it. Same as the rancher who denies access to Campbell lake when people get stupid on his property.

Get over it people

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Greg D says:
August 26, 2016 06:43pm

I agree with Mel on this one. In taking the issue at hand and other people's comments and the fact our police reserve fund is over flowing from paying for officers Ottawa is taking forever to send us and that KIB only has 1 by-law officer, why don't we go help them patrol the area with our by-laws and help with beach clean up along with helping the band issue & enforce fines instead of having a woa is us attuide?

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James nelson says:
August 26, 2016 01:08pm

This tact was tried in Lions Bay B.C. a number of years ago. A "Private Beach, Members Only" sign was erected. It was ignored because the Village of Lions Bay had no authority to enforce it even though it was village property.

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Andy Philpot says:
August 26, 2016 11:07am

Sadly, this isn't the first beach to be blocked off to non band members, the beach just above the Yellowhead Bridge and the one at the East Water Intake have been signed stating no non band members and enforced for several years. As for hiking Mt Peter and Paul, you are only allowed up there if you have a permit but the band office isn't issuing permits.

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Craig Richardson says:
August 26, 2016 10:20am

In this overly sensitive PC world, everything is racist. No matter what you do or say, someone will find a problem with it and twist it into a race issue and suspect you of having an "agenda". Ellen makes a joke about how fast Usain Bolt is and she gets crucified on Twitter, I wish someone a Merry Christmas and suddenly I hate non-Christians, stuff is just out of control.

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Pierre Filisetti says:
August 26, 2016 06:09am

Are we (the rest) banning band members from our City because the malevolence of some of their members?
There should be no "banning" but a cooperative effort to manage bad behaviour (which again, comes from all corners of the known universe) for the sake of the greater good. We do not need more "walls", no more "keep off" signs, no more animosity.

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Grouchy 1 says:
August 26, 2016 11:32am

I have to agree with you Pierre. What is good for the Goose, is good for the Gander.

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