RDCK calls for recognition of Sinixt nation

| By Cohen Dyer |

On November 16, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) passed a resolution to call on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canad asking the federal government to reconsider the declaration that the Sinixt people are extinct.

“The Arrow Lakes Band (also known as the Sinixt) was a recognized Indian Band in Canada until 1953, when the last living registered member died,” said Stephanie Palma, Media Relations for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. “Because there were no living members, the Band was removed from the band list administered by Canada under the Indian Act and the former reserve land was returned to the Province of British Columbia. At the time research and due diligence was undertaken to ensure there were no remaining living members of the Band.”

The Sinixt First Nation, currently lead from the part of its territory that lays south of the Canada-USA boarder, has challenged the claim that it or its people are extinct. On March 27 of this year, Canadian courts ruled in favour of Sinixt citizen Rick DeSautel in a dispute about the right to hunt in Canada.

“The RDCK Board of Directors feels that the federal government made an error in declaring the Arrow Lakes/Sinixt First Nation extinct in 1956, and urges the government to investigate this possibility,” said Stuart Horn, Chief Administrative Officer for the RDCK. “If it was in fact an error, the federal government must begin the process to establish what lands are Sinixt traditional territory.”

The Sinixt First Nation did not respond to request for comment.