Whose Water? A B.C. First Nation Perspective
As is so often the case here in B.C. when controversy arises concerning land and resources, many non-natives rally to the cry that it is "our" resources or "public land" that's at stake.
To some First Nations, this is met with puzzlement: how did my people's traditional land and resources become something that belongs to all British Columbians?
A case in point is the recent issue ofNestle's water extraction operation in Hope, B.C. Here, one of the largest corporations in the world is taking 260 million litres of water per year of aquifer groundwater without charge. It's certainly an issue to be concerned about.
However, the media narrative is grounded in the notion ofwater as a public resource. The Sto:lo Nation communities of Chawathil and Union Bar would like to know how their rights and title to this particular resource was taken fromthem.
After all, Canada is supposedly a democratic society based on the rule of law. The highest law of the land, the Canadian constitution, "recognizes and affirms" Aboriginal rights and title and finally there's also a B.C. treaty process, as dysfunctional as it might be. These things are supposed to mean something, not to be taken as token gestures to the reality of the usurpation of native sovereignty in this country.
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