Our 25th episode takes us to Coast Salish territory in British Columbia. Former chief Willie Charlie of Sts'ailes First Nation joins the show this week. Willie is currently a negotiator who has had a broad array of experience and perspective on the history of land use that is still rich in memory. Having watched the transition to land code, Willie says it is the protection of the environment has been a fundamental priority, law-making to deal with COVID-19, and easing into economic development and land use in the way the community is comfortable with - short term commitments that help balance revenue generation with the ongoing protection of land.
1:45 Willie tells us where his community is located, in a pristine valley about a two-hour drive east of Vancouver.
3:33 He had many opportunities to leave as a young man but wanted to keep his family in this way of life. He represented Canada.
4:39 He served on council prior to deciding to run for Chief. His role is quite different today in a 'non-political' role. Gives him added perspective. He had a varied career as a teacher, in corrections, and in his own business.
6:25 Willie says there were many examples of 'Big Brother' interfering with the Band, which helped spur interest in the Land Code. They were never compensated for logging in their territory.
8:10 Land Code has offered protection of the environment..good clean land, water, and air. They were able to create their own laws to govern the preservation of their lands. It now also offers the chance to seek business opportunities without having to seek approval in Victoria or Ottawa.
9:50 Additions to Reserve process has been very frustrating. Fifteen years over a road issue!
11:37 Land code is fairly new and Sts'ailes is off the beaten path, so they're moving slowly toward economic development. Now negotiating with BC and Canada on separate reconciliation agreements, which could mean more land to work with. Whatever is done the same approach should be taken with lands off-reserve in their traditional territory. Land code has helped pave the way.
13:52 Some pipe (not for the TransMountain Pipeline) being stored in a light industrial park, doing some milling and logging but new opportunities will come. The community wasn't comfortable with leasing out too much land. They negotiated a role to be involved in any cleanup since they know the land, rivers, and lakes so well.
18:20 Land Code is only 3 years old and there is much engagement as it ties into comprehensive community planning. The pandemic also meant they used their law-making ability to deal with Covid-19. They initiated a lockdown and restricted movement, which required adjustment as conditions changed. This was self-policed.
23:07 How the FNLMRC has helped guide the community through the land code process, especially with its knowledge of approaches across the country. Willie often talks with other communities about the Sts'ailes experience.
25:07 Willie shares his vision for the immediate future, especially moving toward self-governance. Land Code was an excellent step in that direction, along with FNFMB certification that allowed for 10-year grant funding. There will be bumps and mistakes, but at least they have the authority and control to address issues, not relying on others. Land Code is a significant step.
27:30 Listeners can contact him or Lands Manager Dawn Charlie.
28:00 Richard promotes Sts'ailes website.
Willie Charlie email: William.Charlie@stsailes.com
First Nations Land Management Resource Centre