Nagwentled (Farwell Canyon) is Tŝilhqot’in territory, and will always be Tŝilhqot’in territory. It meanders through the watch area of Tl’esqox, one of the six Tŝilhqot’in communities that make up the Tŝilhqot’in Nation.
WLFN did not approach Tl’esqox or the Tŝilhqot’in Nation before publicly announcing this “planning exercise” in Tl’esqox’s backyard in Tŝilhqot’in territory. WLFN did not invite our leadership to discuss this planning exercise or make any effort to engage our nation before issuing a press release. This approach is very disrespectful to our nation and to our elders and members who cherish Nagwentled as Tŝilhqot’in land.
We would prefer to deal with this issue honorably, between nations, and not through press releases. However, given the WLFN’s public statements and the escalation of the conflict, we have no choice but to issue this statement.
The Chilko (ts’eman) salmon running through the Nagwentled is one of the last strong North American salmon. Chilko salmon populations spawn in the heart of declared land titles, deep within Tŝilhqot’in territory. The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has fought and sacrificed for generations to maintain these pristine waters. We have turned down large sums of money while other First Nations have entered into commercial agreements with open pit mines that discharge directly into the Fraser and Quesnel systems. Each First Nation decides the priorities of its people, and we do not criticize the paths chosen by other First Nations. Our nation has chosen to exercise not only our rights in Nagwentled, but more importantly, our responsibilities to our sacred waters and our salmon stocks.
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation opposes archaeological work or any other disturbance in Nagwentled without our approval. We will be reaffirming to British Columbia and Canada that Nagwentled is Tsilhqot’in territory and that our people will always have a responsibility to steward and steward these lands and waters.