The Syilx Okanagan Nation is calling on the provincial government to stop the logging of old-growth forests in the Revelstoke area.
The Okanagan Nation Alliance, consisting of seven First Nations in the Okanagan and Similkameen, has been butting heads with the province over old-growth logging protections for months.
Earlier this year, they formally opposed a set of old-growth logging deferrals in its territory over a lack of consultation, declaring the proposed maps were simply inaccurate and did not properly protect some old-growth stands while protecting other previously-harvested forests.
“To clarify, the Syilx Okanagan Nation does not, in any way, oppose the protection and conservation of these ecosystems for the generations to come. What we opposed is the lack of meaningful engagement with the Syilx Okanagan Nation to determine how the protection of these forests should take place in our territory,” the ONA said in a news release this week.
The First Nation says the provincial government provided them “with a set of options” in July 2022 that allowed for the logging of old-growth stands in the Revelstoke area.
“These options do not include adequate protections for old forests, caribou, and the many other values on our territory,” the ONA said.
“The province’s failure to protect old growth forests and critical caribou habitat has direct adverse impacts on our ability to maintain our culture and exercise our title and rights,” said Byron Louis, Okanagan Indian Band chief.
“It has resulted in the extinction and near-extinction of species that we have always relied on for food, social and ceremonial purposes, including southern mountain caribou. We have no reason to believe that BC intends to change their approach significantly enough to secure a thriving Southern Mountain Caribou population.”
The ONA says six of 17 local caribou herds are now extirpated. Seven herds are located on Syilx territory of which three are extirpated, two are threatened and declining, and two are stable but not self-sustaining.
The ONA says it is demanding that the province stops cutting old-growth forests on its territory, “and meet with our leadership to determine a fulsome criteria for the issuance of cutting permits and protection of forests.”