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Chief Garry John stands with the Sekw’el’was

Lillooet News reports, “A protest blockade by Sekw’el’was (Cayoose Creek Band) has stopped construction work on the District of Lillooet’s water intake project on Seton River (Cayoosh Creek). The blockade went up at 7 a.m. (on Friday) Jan. 17, preventing contractors from accessing Cayoosh Creek Campground where construction had started on the intake.”

“Chief (Michelle) Edwards said Friday the Sekw’el’was has filed a ‘strongly worded’ appeal with the provincial Environmental Appeal Board to have the water project halted. She said her community believes work on the intake will destroy vital fish habitat, including spawning beds, and smother incubating eggs. Edwards told the News salmon are of critical importance to the St’at’imc people, forming the foundation of St’at’imc culture and sustenance. The chief said work on the intake commenced without adequate consultation with Sekw’el’was.”

“St’at’imc Chiefs Council Chair Chief Garry John thanked non-aboriginal people for supporting the blockade (last Friday). ‘It’s really good to see it’s not just aboriginal people here today. Too many times, it’s portrayed as cowboys and Indians, aboriginal people against any kind of development. That’s certainly not the case for this community.'”

Chief Garry John is also a national Board member with the Council of Canadians.


Chief Edwards
Photo: Chief Michelle Edwards

Chief JohnPhoto: Chief Garry John

A statement from the Sekw’el’was (St’at’imc Territory), issued the day before the blockade, highlighted, “Sekw’el’was, together with other St’at’imc communities, are caretakers of the watershed and we take seriously our responsibilities to its governance and conservation. …This section of Cayoose Creek is only seven kilometres long and is already impacted by four hydro-dams. We are at the tipping point with the health of this river and the life it sustains – wildlife, plants, soil, air and humans.”

The statement also notes, “Lillooet has been on notice for decades that Sekw’el’was asserts that these lands are part of our reserve. It is unconscionable that Lillooet would fast-track this construction without acknowledging we have long-standing claims on this land.”

On that last point, CBC reports, “Lillooet Mayor Dennis Bonstron said he doesn’t believe the municipality had a regulatory obligation to consult with the band. Bonstron said he will speak to his council to determine whether they will reach out to the First Nation in an effort to put an end to the action.”