By KATE BOUEY
Splatsin First Nation elders have gone over the heads of Chief Wayne Christian and their band council, appealing to chiefs across the province to stop a proposed land settlement.
A referendum on the proposed settlement is expected to be held at the Splatsin community centre in Enderby on July 16th, between 8 a.m.-9 p.m., on whether to accept a $300,000 federal government offer in exchange for land that the band claims was illegally taken from them.
Band elders are adamantly opposed, stating that a sacred ancestral burial ground lies beneath the orchard.
“The government is trying to hide the history of the small pox,” said Nathan Kinbasket, a Splatsin elder.
Senior indigenous leaders, including Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chief and B.C. regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson of the Assembly of First Nations, have been urged to intervene in the dispute.
The elders are fearful that an agreement to sell the land will set a precedent that could be used in other land claims involving ancestral remains.
“Without this help from B.C. chiefs we will immediately be the first B.C. band to lose our ancestors through this process and set an ugly precedent for all indigenous people,” said Jody Leon, spokesperson for the elders.
The group is also calling on people to be “a presence” during the vote at the community centre on Saturday.