Park closed for FN event

The North Thompson Provincial Park Campground is closed to the general public this weekend to accommodate the Indigenous Traditional Tattoo Action and Gathering.

The July 6–9, event is being held in solidarity with the Secwepemc Land Defenders, an independent advocacy group, which chief and council of Simpcw First Nation want to make clear, is not affiliated with Simpcw.

“While we support the use of our parklands by Secwepemc People and events to promote the protection and preservation of local Indigenous lands and cultural sites, this event is not associated with our Nation,” said Chief Loring. “Simpcw First Nation was not involved in the planning or organizing of this event, and while we have been in contact with BC Parks, we were not involved in the decision to close the park”.

Chief and council also want to make clear the distinction between Simpcw First Nation, the Secwepemc Nation and the Secwepemc Land Defenders.

Loring said Simpcw First Nation is a division of the Secwepemc (or Shuswap) Nation.

“Traditionally, the Secwepemc collectively protected the territories of the Shuswap, however, each Secwepemc Nation was and is separate and independent, with its own territory boundaries within the larger Secwepemculecw,” he said.

With respect to North Thompson Provincial Park, Loring clarified the park is located in the heart of Simpcw Territory, making Simpcw the proper titleholders to the lands.

“Only Simpcw has the authority to assert title and rights to the parklands. As an independent advocacy group, the Secwepemc Land Defenders do not have any authority to claim rights to our lands ... in fact, in our view, the Secwepemc Land Defenders ought to have obtained Simpcw’s consent to hold the event on our lands,” said Loring, adding the North Thompson Provincial Park is well established and confirmed as an important traditional site for Simpcw First Nation.

Chief and council intend to engage with the Province to discuss developing a joint agreement with respect to the management of the parklands in Simpcw Territory.

“It’s one of our priorities as a Nation” explained Loring, “Such agreement will be based on the recognition of Simpcw’s Aboriginal Title and Rights to its parklands, and in doing so, will confirm Simpcw’s role in the management and protection of our lands and resources.”

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