World Views of the Squamish First Nation and the Province of British Columbia Displayed in their Land Use Plans

litbonanza.jpgThe Squamish Nation Traditional Territory is located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. The territory has a total area of 673, 540 hectares and includes the area from Point Grey to Roberts Creek and north to the Elaho River including all of the islands in the Howe Sound and the Squamish valley. It further extends north of Whistler to the Soo and Green Rivers and south to the Port Moody area including the Mamquam River and Indian Arm drainages. The Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001) was developed by the Squamish Nation in order to describe their vision for the future of the forests and wilderness in their Traditional Territory. The plan indicates how the community wants their land and resources protected, developed, and managed at the present and in the future.

The Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan (2006), developed by the Province of British Columbia, indicates how the provincial government would like to see the Lower Mainland area used. The provincial government is interested in the long-term sustainability of the environment as well as local economic development including tourism and recreation. It aims to provide a balance of interests with consideration of the larger regional and provincial setting. Unlike the Xay Temixw Land Use Plan, it does not include Indian reserves. The plan covers an area of 1,068, 800 hectares and encompasses all of the Squamish Nation Traditional Territory and considerable additional areas to the north and to the east.

The Squamish Nation and the Province of British Columbia have many contrasting views regarding how the area should be managed. Despite this, the parties came to an agreement that is outlined in the Agreement of Land Use Planning between the Squamish First Nation and the Province of British Columbia (2007). By analyzing the Xay Temixw Land Use Plan and the Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan, it is evident that two different world views were compromised and combined to complete this final agreement. Differing world views of Morality, Exchange, and Power are clearly evident in the initial Land Use Plans. In the case of Morality, the Squamish Nation seeks to preserve the area for current and future generations by limiting the amount of resources that are extracted from the land. The Nation also wants limited interference of the forests, especially by non-Nation people. The provincial government, on the other hand, strongly believes that economic development and recreational use are important in the area, even if these activities harm the environment. In the case of Exchange, the Squamish Nation believes that many resources should not be commercialized and should only be traded among Nation members. In contrast, the provincial government believes that resources in the area should be extracted for economic benefit. It does not recognize Nation members as having priority to the area. In the case of Power, the Squamish Nation asserts that it has the right to the land because its members have inhabited the area since time immemorial and have never given up their rights to it. However, the provincial government believes that it has right to the area because it is currently the body in power. Both land use plans clearly reflect conflicting attitudes concerning the responsibility of maintaining our forests.

Morality
The Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001) indicates that the Squamish Nation is deeply concerned about the ecological environment of its Traditional Territory. Community members believe they have a duty to protect all of their natural resources, including the forests, wildlife, and water sources. The plan emphasizes the protection of the various animals and their habitats in the Traditional Territory (p. 21). In addition to protecting existing native animals, it is also important to the community to increase or restore their numbers, especially if they are at endangered levels (p. 23). For example, the plan indicates that it is important to “maintain, rebuild, or enhance salmon stocks to historic levels” (p. 29). In order for this to be achieved, the plan notes that there needs to be adequate protection of habitats and that hunting and fishing should only take place if there is a sufficient supply of the particular animal (p. 23, 29, 31). The Squamish Nation believes that the animal levels in all areas should be closely monitored including those that are mainly used by non-native people (p. 22). According to the information available in the Land Use Plan, the Squamish Nation believes that animal levels and habitats should have priority over resource use, including commercial enterprise.

The Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001) also emphasizes that the preservation of forests in the Traditional Territory is of great concern to the Squamish Nation. The plan indicates that the community is concerned about forest development activities that are degrading or destroying the environment. They believe that clear-cutting is the most devastating method of forestry and needs to be stopped (p. 27). In addition to protecting the existing forests, it is also important to the Nation that increased amounts of reforestation take place in order to protect and restore wildlife habitat (p. 22). The protection of non-timber forest products such as botanical and nutraceutical plants is also important (p 27). The Xay Temixw Land Use Plan indicates that the Squamish Nation is deeply concerned with the protection and renewal of forests in its Traditional Territory. It wants to maintain the existing forests while replenishing resources that have been harvested.

The Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan (2006) demonstrates that while the Province of British Columbia is concerned with the protection of the area’s wildlife and forests, it also has a strong concern regarding the economic aspects of the area. Unlike the Squamish Nation, the government believes that recreation and other economically productive industries should be taken into consideration when managing the area’s environment. For instance, instead of drastically eliminating all development in forests, it believes that roads and electricity transmission lines should have priority (p.26). The compromise between the environment of the forest and the economy is also evident when the plan suggests that in areas where water quality and pink salmon are being negatively affected, road deactivation should occur in consultation with recreational user groups (p. 46). Even in critical Wildlife Zones, the plan states that the development of mining, oil, and gas production should be allowed in several cases (p. 19). Often when resource developers move into an area they must consult not only fish and wildlife values, but also the opinion of the public and the tourism sector (p. 15). In contrast to the Squamish Nation’s Land Use Plan, the Province of British Columbia is concerned with balancing the natural environment with economic interests. Often, recreational use and resource extraction are given priority over maintaining the forests at optimal levels.

It is evident in the Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001) that the Squamish Nation believes that it has a duty to protect the environment for present community members. The community believes that wilderness in the area should be protected so that all members can engage in spiritual and cultural activities (p. 27). For example, the Nation believes that plants that are important for harvesting should not be harmed and that their numbers should be restored to original levels (p. 19). Billy Joseph, a member of the Squamish Nation, further notes that the forests must be preserved so that members of the community can use them for traditional activities such as finding medicine (p. 11). Hunting is another important activity that the Nation would like members to benefit from. It believes that the forests need to be protected and animal numbers restored so that adequate hunting opportunities are available for the entire community (p. 20, 32). Providing a clean, safe, and reliable water supply for all Squamish Nation members was also an issue (p. 37). The Squamish Nation’s Land Use Plan emphasizes the importance of the forest and its products in the daily lives of people in its community. It wants resources in its Traditional Territory to be maintained so that members can continue to use them at appropriate levels.

The Province of British Columbia provides a different view in the Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan (2006) on what its duties are toward residents of the area. Contrary to the Xay Temixw Land Use Plan which supports as little interference with the forests as possible, the provincial government believes that all people should be able to enjoy the forests, even if the results have negative consequences on the environment (p. 26). The plan states that when the forestry sector implements forest operations it should be “sensitive to these resource users and afford them a high degree of respect” (p. 15). While the Squamish Nation feels that it is important to preserve all areas of the forests including remote locations for future generations, the Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan uses statements such as “known scenic area” and “visual quality objective” that emphasize preserving areas that are the most easily seen by the general population (p. 16).The provincial government policies emphasize cooperation between access to the forest by the public for recreation and preservation of the natural environment. Its Land Use Plan does not mention the importance of First Nations spiritual or cultural activities in the use of the land. Instead, it emphasizes that the maintenance of the forest for recreational users is an important objective.

The Province of British Columbia puts less emphasis on the sustainability of the area’s environment for future generations. Although the provincial government is interested in maintaining the natural environment, recreation and tourism opportunities are important to them despite the fact that such use can negatively (and permanently) affect the forests (p. 19). In contrast, the Squamish Nation’s Land Use Plan indicates that the forests should be maintained so that resources can be enjoyed now and in the future. The plan indicates that the continuation of spiritual and cultural activities should take precedence over both commercial and recreational uses of the forest in their Traditional Territory.

Exchange
The Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001) emphasizes how the Squamish Nation seeks to limit the commercialization of its Traditional Territory. Members of the Nation find it important to share the resources of their land among themselves with little or no money involved. For example, many members believe that selling plants is more acceptable if the plants are sold between Squamish members for personal use. In addition, many members believe fish that are caught should not be sold at all (p. 18, 29). Linda Williams, a member of the Nation, states that only trade should be involved with items of traditional use. Her belief that profiting from the sale of traditional items could lead to the process becoming too commercialized is also reflected in the general Squamish community (p. 20). Many members believe that selling resources to the public will lead to insufficient amounts left for community members. They believe that there are insufficient wild plants available to support selling to the non-native sector and, therefore, the plants should only be traded among members of the Nation (p. 18). The Squamish Nation’s Land Use Plan emphasizes its rights to the resources of the forest over the rights of non-First Nations people.

The Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan (2006) demonstrates the provincial government’s differing view towards private and public exchange. The plan emphasizes that the provincial government places high priority on commercial activities involving the area’s natural resources. Throughout the plan, the forest industry and the sale of lumber are shown to be an extremely important issue. Forestry is highly commercial in the area and the Squamish Nation’s notion of trading is virtually nonexistent. Contrary to the Squamish Nation belief of trading, the British Columbian forest industry is extremely concerned about obtaining the best possible price for its timber (Forest Services British Columbia, 2008). To it, public exchange is far more important than private exchange. It believes that the commercial forestry sector should be given priority over the land in order to produce economic benefit.

The Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001) demonstrates that Squamish Nation members believe that their knowledge of the ecological environment in the area is important in protecting the environment and teaching non-native people how to better manage the land. Squamish Nation members believe that increasing jobs for Nation members in wildlife habitat management is important not only for economic stability, but also for the well being of the environment (p. 22). Squamish Nation members also believe that they have significant knowledge of siviculture and should be given jobs in the field in order to improve the environment and teach others the technique. The community is upset because of the lack of Nation members who are employed in the forest industry. If they are employed, it is usually on short-term contracts (p. 23, 25). The Squamish Nation believes that it has valuable information concerning its Traditional Territory that would greatly benefit the forestry sector. Its plan emphasizes that it is of importance to the community to be actively involved in the management of the land.

In contrast, the Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan (2006) does not mention traditional Squamish Nation knowledge of forestry or other natural resource industries. Instead, individuals employed by the government are seen as holding the more valuable knowledge. For example, in order to identify appropriate recreational zones, the government’s Planned Implementation Committee is asked for its opinion. Management guidelines are also offered by the committee (p. 15). The same process is evident when managing wildlife (p. 19, 20). Again, the traditional knowledge of the Squamish Nation is almost completely ignored in the plan.

Based on its Land Use Plan, the Squamish Nation believes that many resources in its Traditional Territory should be exchanged among members of the Nation and should not sold by either members or non-members. However, if the resources are sold, the Nation believes that it has a right to the revenue that is created. The Province of British Columbia, on the other hand, believes that the commercialization of the natural resources should be given priority. Its Land Use Plan indicates that it believes that the profits made from selling the resources should be shared between the forestry sector and the provincial government, not the Squamish Nation. The Squamish Nation Land Use Plan further indicates that the Nation believes that the incorporation of its traditional knowledge into the forestry sector is of great importance. However, the Province’s Land Use Plan indicates that it places priority on knowledge of government committees not the knowledge of the Nation.

Power
In the Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001), it is evident that the Squamish Nation believes that it should be given priority to its Traditional Territory because it members were the first to inhabit the area and have continued to live there (p.4). In addition, the Nation has never given up or surrendered its right to the territory, the resources, or the power to make decisions within the territory (p. 4). Sharon Miranda, a member of the Nation, holds a common view within the community that companies should have to ask the Nation if they can cut down trees (p. 5). The Nation believes that its ancestors have given it the right to do what it wants to and for the land (p. 19). The Agreement of Land Use Planning between the Squamish First Nation and the Province of British Columbia (2007) indicates that the Nation does not recognize the government as being in control of the resources on the land. The Nation insists that it will manage the land and resources in accordance to its laws, policies, customs, and traditions (p. 2).

The Province of British Columbia offers an opposing view that is evident in the Agreement on Land Use Planning between the Squamish Nation and the Province of British Columbia (2007). It believes that the land and the resources in the area belong to the Crown and are under the sovereignty of the Queen and the legislative jurisdiction of the Province of British Columbia (p. 2). Even though the Squamish Nation occupied the land before the arrival of Europeans, the provincial government believes that it has since become in control and, therefore, should have control over the land and its resources. Contrary to the Nations belief that the Creator allows certain actions, the Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan (2006) indicates that the provincial government believes that it is the government’s job to control the area. For example, the Elected Officials Forum, a part of the local government, decides which areas of water supply are of the greatest concern (p. 46). In addition, the protection of several species of animals were identified by the Ministry of Environment as being the most in danger (p. 61). The government believes that it is in power now and, therefore, has the right and responsibility to administer the land.

The Land Use Plans of the Squamish Nation and the Province of British Columbia demonstrate conflicting views of land use. The Squamish Nation believes that it owns the land because its members were the first to occupy the area and have never given up their rights to it. On the other hand, the provincial government believes that the land is now Crown land and under the control of the government. The Agreement on Land Use Planning between the Squamish Nation and the Province of British Columbia indicates that these contesting views are both respected. Even though the Squamish Nation does not own its Traditional Territory, the agreement outlines the Nation’s belief that it should. However, the agreement also makes it evident that the land is owned by the Crown and, therefore, it is controlled by the Canadian government. This agreement is an interim measure before possible land claim issues are addressed by the Squamish Nation and the Canadian government.

Conclusion
The Land Use Plans of the Squamish Nation and the Province of British Columbia reflect different world views. The Squamish Nation’s Xay Temixw Land Use Plan and the Province of British Columbia’s Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan illustrate many contrasting views of Morality, Exchange, and Power. In the case of Morality, the Squamish Nation believes that its most important duty is to protect the environment for current and for future generations. In order to do so, the Nation believes that monitoring and restoring animal population and protecting the forests should be the ultimate priority. The provincial government, on the hand, makes compromises between the environment and economic aspects. Oil, gas, and mining corporations are allowed to extract resources from the area even when the environment is threatened. In addition, the recreational uses of the area are often prioritized over the environment. The government is in constantly compromises between the ecological well-being of the area and economic interests.

In the case of Exchange, the Squamish Nation believes that the resources of its Traditional Territory should be conserved by limiting commercialization. Many members believe that plants and animals should be traded exclusively within their community and not sold to non-members. However, if the resources are sold, the Nation believes that it should economically benefit from the sale. Contrary to this, the provincial government places emphasis on the commercialization of natural resources. It seeks to obtain the best possible prices for the resources that are extracted from the area. The government also believes that it has rights to the resources over the rights of the Squamish Nation. The Squamish Nation describes its Power as being inherently theirs because it has occupied the land from time immemorial and has never given up its right to the area. The Nation believes that it should be asked for permission before resources are extracted from its Traditional Territory. The provincial government, on the other hand, believes it controls the land and all its resources because it is the main body in power. These clashing world views will have implications in further negotiations between the Squamish Nation and the Province and will continue to affect the forest, wildlife, and water sources of the area.

Bibliography

Agreement on Land Use Planning between the Squamish Nation and the Province of British Columbia (2007). Ministry of Agriculture & Lands. [Electronic Version]. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from here

Forest Services British Columbia: BC Timber Sales. [Electronic Version]. Retrieved January 26, 2008, from here.

Sea-to-Sky Land Resource Management Plan (2006). [Electronic Version]. Retrieved January 19, 2008, from here

Xay Temixw Land Use Plan (2001). [Electronic Version]. Retrieved January 19, 2008, from here.

Related Topics

terryman

Michaela Garstin is an anthropology student who loves to write. She is focusing on natural resourse issues in BC and langauge revitalization.

2 Responses to “World Views of the Squamish First Nation and the Province of British Columbia Displayed in their Land Use Plans”

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.