Days after a ground breaking Supreme Court decision to allow aboriginal title, the Okanagan Indian Band is requesting the Government of Canada buy the defunct Kelowna Pacific Railway Line between Kelowna and Vernon.
Chief Byron Louis says on the heels of last weeks decision the Okanagan Indian Band sent a letter to Minister of Transportation Lisa Raitt requesting the purchase.
“A significant portion of the rail line falls within the OKIB’s Commonage Reserve set up by the Joint Reserve Commission of 1877,” said Chief Byron Louis, “The Commonage Reserve was never lawfully surrendered or otherwise lawfully taken.”
Chief Louis added that the Okanagan People have waited for well over 100 years to have their concerns addressed by the federal government.
“In 1910 our chiefs presented Sir Wilfred Laurier with a document outlining our grievances and a desire to enter negotiations,” he said, “They were ignored.”
Originally Canada had entered land claims negotiations with the OKIB relating to the Commonage Reserve Claim but later withdrew.
“Our entitlement to the Commonage land remains and the federal government cannot simply ignore our unresolved claim to our ancestral lands,” said Louis. “We have a strong case.”
The federal government has not replied to the Okanagan Indian Band’s request.