Lasqueti Crown Land and the First Nations Woodland Licence

PART 1

The news that Crown land on Lasqueti will be part of a First Nations Woodland Licence (FNWL) has started me thinking about BC’s colonial history and the need for reconciliation with Indigenous people. Here are a few thoughts I’d like to share.

1.  I support First Nations having increased control over their traditional lands on Lasqueti, but I do not think the FNWL as proposed is a significant step towards reconciliation.

2. Fifty percent of First Nations children in BC live in poverty, which is a result of more than 100 years of discrimination and dispossession. For true reconciliation, First Nations need economic opportunities that are adequate to substantially reduce poverty.

3.  The proposed licence to log up to 5000 cubic metres a year is likely to generate an annualized revenue of at most $250,000 per year, or even as little as $100,000. That works out to between $1.00 and $2.50 per day for each Snaw-naw-as member.  (The Lasqueti portion of the FNWL area will yield about 10 to 25 cents per person per day.)

4. While I am sure $100,000 to $250,000 could help to pay for urgently needed services or infrastructure, I don’t see how the Province can call such a small source of revenue an “important step forward for reconciliation”. It is shamefully inadequate. The BC Government appears to think Indigenous people should be satisfied with a miniscule share of the wealth from their lands.

5. The FNWL will not strictly require the licence holder to log the Lasqueti parcels, but there is no other way these lands can provide an economic return comparable to logging. 

6. Mature forests on Lasqueti Crown land belong to Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) ecosystems that the BC government ranks as “critically imperilled”. The use of good logging practices won’t change the fact that it is impossible to harvest commercial quantities of timber from these lands and at the same time protect endangered ecosystems.

7. BC has abundant areas of productive forest. Why is the BC Government offering Snaw-naw-as an economic opportunity that is too small to be meaningful and can only be realized at a cost of logging endangered ecosystems?

8. Most of southeastern Vancouver Island (8500 square kilometers) was privatized in the 1884 E&N land grant, without the consent of First Nations. Only a tiny area was allocated to First Nations. The E&N land grant was an act of theft. The justification was a belief that Europeans were racially superior to Indigenous people. Most Canadians now repudiate such beliefs as baseless and repugnant, but their legacy remains in place.

9. The E&N lands are still in private hands, and the few pockets of Crown land left are not enough for the economic and cultural needs of the First Nations from whom the land was stolen. For true reconciliation to occur, the Federal and Provincial government must re-acquire significant areas of the E&N land and return it to First Nations.

 

PART 2

I sent a cheque for $10,000  to the BC Minister of Finance, along with a letter to the Premier, Cabinet Ministers, and other elected representatives. I asked that the money be used to start a fund to acquire private land and return it to First Nations.  

This money was not offered as an act of charity; it is a payment on a debt. The land I live on was taken from Indigenous people without their consent. I believe that every person and corporation who benefited from use or ownership of land that was wrongfully taken from First Nations owes a similar debt, in proportion to how much they benefited and their level of wealth and income. My reason for sending money is to show that I am willing—in fact eager—to pay tax to support reconciliation as long as the tax is equitably levied and dispersed. My full letter, containing historical data and analysis to support the points made here, is attached below.

I also asked the BC government to:

  • Protect CDF forests ecosystems on Crown land on Lasqueti Island prior to issuing any tenure. (I fully support the Lasqueti parcels being in the FNWL as long as they are used for purposes consistent with ecosystem conservation.)
  • Include additional Crown land that is not within a rare ecosystem in the area for the Snaw-naw-as FNWL, with sufficient capacity to at least offset the reduction in Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) due to protecting CDF ecosystems on Lasqueti.
  • In the event that no such additional Crown land is available, provide an annual payment to offset the reduction.
  • Commit to acquiring, by 2030, at least 100,000 ha of land within the E&N land grant area to return to First Nations (This would be less than 1/8 of the area that was stolen.)
  • Provide secure government funding for the program of land acquisition, derived in substantial measure from the gains that have accrued to private owners of the E&N land grant lands.

I hope that other members of the community will join me in this effort to support reconciliation and ecosystem conservation. I am interested to hear what other people are thinking and doing. Please feel free to send me your constructive comments or suggestions, at dhopwood [at] island [dot] net

Here are contact data for elected representatives.

  • Premier John Horgan - Phone: 250-387-1715; Email: premier [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca
  • Katrine Conroy, Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development      
  • Phone:  250-387-6240; Email: FLNR [dot] Minister [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca
  • George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy 
  • Phone: 250-387- 1187; Email: ENV [dot] minister [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca
  • Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
  • Phone: 250-387-4844; Email: IRR [dot] minister [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca
  • Adam Walker, MLA, Parksville-Qualicum - Phone: 250-387-3655; Email: adam [dot] walker [dot] MLA [at] leg [dot] bc [dot] ca
  • Lasqueti Island Local Trust Committee, Islands Trust:  
  • Email:  LasquetiIslandLocalTrustCommittee [at] islandstrust [dot] bc [dot] ca
  • Andrew Fall, Area Director, qathet Regional District – Phone:  250-333-8595; Email: afall [at] qathet [dot] ca
  • Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations  
  • Phone: 613-995-9666; Email: carolyn [dot] bennett [at] parl [dot] gc [dot] ca
  • Gord Johns, MP, Courtenay-Alberni – Phone: 250 947-2140; Email: Gord [dot] Johns [at] parl [dot] gc [dot] ca
  • Paul Manly, MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith – Phone: 250-734-6400; Email: Paul [dot] Manly [at] parl [dot] gc [dot] ca
AttachmentSize
Letter to Premier. re: Reconciliation on Southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands (pdf)1.26 MB

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