Friday, October 10, 1997,
by David Hogben, Sun Legislature Bureau
[Please note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only. -- S.I.S.I.S.]
Victoria - Sechelt Indians are demanding a meeting with Premier Glen Clark after treaty talks reached an impasse on the Sunshine Coast. "The response they gave us today was very pathetic. It was the same response they gave us six weeks ago," Chief Gary Feschuk said after negotiations in the Sechelt Longhouse broke down after four hours of fruitless talks Thursday.
"I am frustrated to the point where I wonder if there is any political will to complete [a treaty]," Feschuk said. He said some band members were so angry they had to be persuaded not to blockade the highway running through the community. The Sechelt Indians have suspended all talks for at least two weeks, and will decide their next step after learning whether Clark will agree to meet them. Clark could not be reached for comment. But Peter Smith, manager of media affairs in the aboriginal affairs ministry, said senior ministry staff need to be briefed by provincial negotiator Bill Valentine before any recommendations are made.
Canada's chief negotiator said it is unlikely the federal government will be altering its position on any of the four key issues the Sechelt are rejecting. "I don't expect my instructions to change in the next 14 days," Robin Dodson said in a telephone interview. Negotiators from the two levels of senior government have offered the Sechelt band of 990 people $48 million and 350 hectares of land in addition to the 1,000 hectares the band already holds in fee-simple title. But Feschuk said the Sechelt cannot accept four key elements of the proposal. They oppose:
- a transfer of Sechelt existing and treaty lands from federal jurisdiction to provincial jurisdiction,Dodson said the outstanding issues were not only put to the Sechelt in the written offer made in August, but were on the table when negotiations suffered a similar breakdown in February.
- The transition period of eight years for paying transaction taxes, such as sales taxes and GST, and 12 years for personal income taxes,
- Ottawa and BC's refusal to transfer a parcel of land that the Sechelt people would like to use for housing, even if they have to wait until 2039, when gravel is mined and the timber is cut,
- Ottawa's and BC's refusal to put gravel royalties (for another parcel of land) in trust until an agreement is reached on whether it will be included in the land package.
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