Sep 15/98: Natives say they'll block Atlin project


The Vancouver Province
September 15, 1998, p. A16
Kent Spencer

[S.I.S.I.S. 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.]

Landowner Maria Heissig fears a threatened native blockade will ruin her plans for development at the small community of Atlin in northwestern BC. The natives have threatened to blockade her property if she goes ahead with plans to build a subdivision there. "If this can happen to me, it can happen to anybody," said Heissig. "Land title should mean something. This is Canada, not some Third World country."

Native spokesman Melvin Jack said the Taku River Tlingit First Nation contends native land was taken wrongfully in 1904. "Leaders have been jailed, and many elders have been jailed, and many elders have passed on, waiting and working for our land to be returned to us," Jack said. "In the meantime, successive provincial and federal governments have blamed each other." Now the focus has switched to a 20 hectare parcel on Atlin Lake near the centre of the community of 500. "The natives told me they would blockade the only access road [tomorrow] if our surveyor begins work," said Heissig. She bought the parcel from private hands nine years ago and has paid the taxes on it since.

She has a letter of recommendation from Atlin's advisory planning committee for her 25-lot proposal, and "all the necessary approvals from the province." Austrian born Heissig, who has lived in Canada for 25 years and is in the auto-parts business in Ontario, said: "Local residents want to buy the lots and Europeans want to be there as well." If the blockade occurs, Heissig plans to go to police. If they won't help "we'll just have to sue."

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