Guide outfitters operating within the Tsilhqot’in title area are appealing to the provincial government to become more involved with the transition as Xeni Gwet’in First Nation assumes jurisdiction.
Bridging agreements created after the Supreme Court decision in 2014 are expiring at the end of March 2019 and none of the guide outfitters have been issued permits to operate for the upcoming season, said Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of BC.
Those bridging agreements were set in place to allow businesses that were on the ground in the new Aboriginal title area to figure out how they were going to operate or not, and what the new rules were, Ellis told the Tribune.
There are four guide outfitters that have some operating area within Tsilhqot’in title lands and no access is provided to them, he explained.
Additionally, the provincial government has a role to play as a facilitator in the sale of impacted businesses by helping assess properties at fair market value and helping with an orderly transition in a timely manner, Ellis said, adding ‘unfortunately’ none of those things are happening.
“If people are starved out or low-balled, you are not advancing reconciliation, you are advancing racism,” he said, noting government should be helping evaluate tenures so that the outfitter and Xeni Gwet’in First Nation know it is fair, and that Xeni Gwet’in has the money it needs to buy the business at a fair price and in a short time frame.
“If you support UNDRIP and you pass UNDRIP-type legislation, that’s fantastic, but unless you actually have a strategy to take care of both the First Nations in whatever area we are talking about and the people that are on that land today, you are creating another wrong,” Ellis said.
“You are discriminating against another race of people.”
A title-tenure meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 4, at Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and Ellis said he is hopeful it will be positive.
Editor’s note: The article was updated to show that the Bridging Agreements for guide outfitters expired in March 2019, not March 2020 as originally stated. Ellis said agreements with other operators in the title lands are expiring March 2020.