A British Columbia Supreme Court judge gave something to everyone in ruling that Sun Peaks Mountain Village Resort, while it should have consulted with the Adams Lake Indian Band before incorporating, does not have to dissemble.
The 20-year battle over Sun Peaks’ very existence—the incorporation is more recent—came to a potential turning point on March 4 when Justice Catherine Bruce ruled that the band had presented a good prima facie case for aboriginal title to the land at Sun Peaks. But it stopped short of quashing its incorporation, as the Vancouver Sun reported, intead ordering the province to begin a new consultation process with the band because the Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality has been incorporated since June 28 and such a decision would “invite chaos.”
The Adams Lake Indian Band nonetheless welcomed the decision, calling it a “significant milestone in this process as the courts have now confirmed that the Crown has continued to breach its basic constitutional duties,” stating further that “the time has come for the province to sit down with the Adams Lake and the other Secwepemc and seriously negotiate proper mechanisms to recognize and affirm Secwepemc aboriginal title and rights.”
Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine told the community newspaper BClocalnews.com that such negotiation is what he’d wanted all along.
“Personally, I wish they weren’t negotiating in courts,” he told BClocalnews.com.
“I keep saying, ‘Let’s get together and figure out where the common ground is.’”
As the Kamloops Daily News reported, Bruce found in her 80-page judgment that the province had not only breached its constitutional duty in not accommodating the interests of the band but that it also had been unreasonable in the way it conducted consultations.
“That puts the onus on the province to resume negotiations in good faith in a dispute that dates back almost 20 years,” the newspaper said.
Jones told the Vancouver Sun that the band’s goal is to protect habitat and areas of spiritual significance, as well as “make sure the First Nations aren’t bystanders to the development of their lands.”