Squamish Nation rejects land code
Squamish Nation members rejected a policy which would place more control of their lands in their council’s hands.
On April 7 and 8, the community voted on whether to enact the Squamish Land Code — a document which would take Squamish Nation land out of the Ministry of Indian Affairs and North Development’s governance and into that of the Nation’s council. If passed, the code would have allowed Squamish Nation to exercise control over its own jurisdiction, including reserve lands and resources.
But Squamish Nation member Jo-Ann Nahanee said a lack of understanding of the technical 112-page document and a mistrust of council led to the code’s downfall.
“The people have shouted out ‘you need to listen to us,’” she said.
Before the vote, Nahanee was among a group of concerned members who thought the code gave council and chief too much power. She warned that under the code, council would have governed all reserve land, which includes members’ homes.
“What [council] needs to do is find another way to progress,” Nahanee said.
Squamish Nation has already started that process, Chief Ian Campbell said. The next step is to go back to the people and see if they want to work on amending the land code or completely drop it, he said.
“I hope that the dialogue continues,” Campbell said.
Like Baker, Campbell thinks the complexity of the issue and depth of information led to the no vote. By voting down the code, the Nation has missed an opportunity to manage its reserve lands, he said. The code has checks and balances in place to make sure power is not abused, Campbell added.
“Accountability would not be to the Indian Act, it would be to the membership,” he said.
Although the code would have provided options for the Nation’s development plans, such as the 2004 Capilano Plan which featured residential apartments between Park Royal South and Ambleside Park, its rejection doesn’t mean construction won’t go ahead, Campbell said.
“It’s business as usual. We will continue to work with the existing process,” Campbell said.