South Okanagan  

Fixed agenda at Indian band forum

The agenda planned for a forum hosted by the Regional District Okanagan –Similkameen Thursday in Osoyoos , was replaced by a discussion on an earlier agreement between three Indian Bands and the district that was never signed.

The forum at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa, attended by RDOS board members,  members of the Penticton Indian Band, Osoyoos Indian Band and Lower Similkameen Indian Band and other area representatives, was supposed to feature speakers and discussions.

Instead, much of the day looked at a protocol agreement, which was developed in 2006 and decided against by the RDOS in 2008.

“Some of the protocol discussion was about what happened in the past and how we got left at the altar,” said PIB Chief Jonathan Kruger. “Bands are still committed to it, and we are hoping the regional district will follow through and cross the line. I am looking for a signing ceremony.”

The agreement  was developed in 2006. When it came to a decision being made in 2008, with a signing date actually set, the board of the day decided against it because of some of the wording, said RDOS chair Dan Ashton.

According to the lengthy agreement document, its purpose includes formalizing a government to government relationship, recognizing and celebrating diversity while cooperating with each other to achieve mutual prosperity and collaborative decision making or negotiating in appropriate areas of common interest.

Under commitments there is a list including stewardship of the land, waters  and ecosystems of the region, educating about Okanagan Nation roles, services and potential partnerships and educating about regional district roles, services and potential partnerships.

Among other suggestions is a joint  council that will meet biannually in the spring and fall to identify and address issues of common concern and to make recommendations to the parties.

Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie said it was good to dust of the document and have another round of meetings.

“Everyone tries to paint a picture that the water is calm, but there has always been  jurisdictional issues over the land,” he said. “We have to get back and talk about these things. And we need to educate the representatives on the real history of the Okanagan Valley, starting with the past and moving forward.”

Overall, he described the day as a baby step, but that being better than no step at all.

While Kruger said it was a good meeting and he was happy that those in attendance got right to the heart of the matter.

Ashton said over the next 60 days, he hopes the board can come to some resolution on the protocol agreement.

Although the day did not go exactly as planned, he said the forum was productive.

“It was a good discussion,” he said. “I am walking away with a good feeling.”

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