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com/article/20110415/SQUAMISH0101/304159934/-1/SQUAMISH /squamish-nation-land-code-rejected Squamish Nation land code rejected Chiefs, council vow to seek members input before deciding next steps License Squamish Nation land code rejectedChiefs, council vow to seek mem bers input before deciding next steps April 15, 2011 David Burke Squamish Nation members have soundly rejected a proposal that would have seen th e First Nations elected chiefs and council assume authority over land use on rese rve lands from the federal government. In two days of voting last Thursday and Friday (April 7 and 8), members voted 80 8 to 547 against the Squamish Land Code, a measure put forward by the chiefs and council that would have seen local leaders gain authority over land use and env ironmental protection over the 849 hectares of on-reserve land on the North Shor e, in Gibsons and in the Squamish area. The turnout was just over half of the 2,528 eligible voters. In the days leading up to vote, leaders had urged the measures passage, saying th ey felt it offered the nation a chance to cast away at least a portion of the pat ernal structure imposed under the Indian Act. Some members, though, expressed con cern about provisions in the land code surrounding expropriation of land and abo ut the potential for authority to be concentrated in the hands of a few leaders. Xayiltenaat (Shirley Lewis), who led a small no demonstration outside Totem Hall o n Thursday (April 7), said one problem is the document, written in legal languag e, was presented to the people only about a month before the vote. She added tha t, in general, she and others feel there hasnt been enough consultation with the membership on a variety of issues. They have to answer to the people, but theyre doing things on their own and were no t happy with it, she said. Chief Ian Campbell on Tuesday (April 12) acknowledged that the timing issue was a big one raised by members. The feedback that weve received so far has indicated that the membership didnt have enough time to really process the information about what would stem from the la nd code and because of that, they werent prepared to endorse it, Campbell said. A man who asked that he be identified by his hereditary name, Gausedis, said som e who did read the document felt it left the door open to abuses by those in pos itions of authority. Theres no checks and balances and theres no protection from exploitation, he said wh ile seated outside Totem Hall on Thursday. Another man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, Ive read most of it and Ive seem some good points, but Ive also seen the door left open for some bad, bad de cisions for our nation. Theres too many holes in this document, and its been pushe d through too fast. Gausedis said some dont feel the current chiefs and council adequately represent them and would like to see the nation go back to the hereditary representation s

ystem that existed before 1981. We want to see the hereditary system back in place our laws, the way it used to b e, with families looking after each other, not the people in power looking after their own, he said. Said Campbell, one of four hereditary chiefs under the current system of represe ntation, The land code process has certainly triggered a lot of great dialogue am ong our membership. From that, there was a lot of discussion of issues surroundi ng our system, including land use and governance. If theyd like to change that [system], theres an opportunity to have that discussio n and consider changing it. In a letter that followed the 59.6 per cent no vote, Band Manager Glen Newman, C hief Gibby Jacob and council co-chairs Byron Joseph and Krisandra Jacobs congrat ulated the membership on making a decisive and clear vote mandating that there will be no changes to the existing management of our Indian Reserve Lands. We will not pursue the proposed Land Code without further consent of the membersh ip. Our Nation will remain under the supervision of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs for management of our Indian Reserve Lands. The letter added, Chiefs and Council look forward to hearing from membership abou t ways to improve the system of land management on our Indian Reserves.

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