In the spirit of reconciliation and co-operation, the Province has purchased ranch lands for the Xatśūll First Nation (Soda Creek Indian Band) as part of treaty negotiations with the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ).
“I believe this is a sign of the changes that are needed to make reconciliation something real for our members and First Nations communities around the province,” said Kukpi7 (Chief) Sheri Sellars, Xatśūll First Nation. “The opportunity this creates puts the tools for economic development into the hands of a community whose life has always been centred around the land. The community is celebrating this achievement – one that provides for a future of security and self-determination for our members.”
The Province purchased the ranch, along with its Crown land range tenure, cattle, hay and equipment, for $8 million. It is leasing the ranch to Xatśūll First Nation until a treaty is reached, at which point ownership will transfer to the Nation. The purchase agreement also includes provision for a grant towards the operating costs for the ranch’s first year.
The purchase includes 1,574 hectares (3,890 acres) of deeded land, 113 hectares (280 acres) of additional pasture, more than 500 head of cattle, extensive outbuildings and two residences. The working ranch has 486 hectares (1,200 acres) of hay production and plenty of irrigation.
“These lands create a new economic opportunity for Xatśūll First Nation. Recognizing the importance of this property to the Nation makes this achievement even more meaningful,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Working together and reaching milestones together opens up the path to treaty and long-term reconciliation, and that benefits the Nation and surrounding communities.”
The acquisition was made as part of the NStQ treaty negotiation process and helps to address ranching tenures impacted by proposed treaty settlement lands. Including the ranch lands as part of treaty has been a long-standing aspiration for NStQ community members, who see the acquisition as an important part of the reconciliation process. This prompted efforts to acquire the property, increasing the size of the treaty land package and securing several water licences, two grazing licences and a grazing lease for members of Soda Creek – Deep Creek (Xatśūll – Cmet’em).
Helen Henderson, Kukpi7 (Chief), Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake), and chair of Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw –
“Our connection to the land is a feeling that runs deeply through Secwepemc people. For generations, this connection has been denied to NStQ members. This step forward begins the process of restoring the confidence of NStQ citizens in the federal and provincial governments’ commitment to reconciliation. I celebrate with Xatśūll – Cmet’em in the long-awaited return of their land. I look forward to a future that includes more timely measures to return land to the people of the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw.”
John Massier, vice-chair, Cariboo Regional District, and board of directors’ treaty representative –
“Congratulations on behalf of the Cariboo Regional District Board. We are pleased to see the continued cooperation by the Province, the Government of Canada and the NStQ treaty team. This purchase is a positive step forward in the treaty negotiations and is an important part of the sustainability and economic growth of Xatśūll – Cmet’em. Building resilient and flourishing communities throughout the Cariboo makes us all stronger together.”
Kevin Boon, general manager, BC Cattlemen’s Association –
“One of the principles that B.C. cattlemen have encouraged in the development of the treaty process is that the Crown consider purchasing ranches as part of the settlement where there is a willing buyer and willing seller. We are pleased to see this moving ahead, and look forward to the Soda Creek Band becoming more active members in the ranching industry in B.C.”
Roger and Alison Patenaude, ranchers and former owners of the property –
“We are pleased to announce the sale of our ranch and assets to the Soda Creek Indian Band and wish them the best in their new adventure in the beef industry.”
• The ranch lands purchased by the Province were formerly known as the Carpenter Mountain Ranch. The name was not a part of the sale and is still held by the previous owners. A new name will be chosen by the Xatśūll First Nation.
• Xatśūll First Nation has over 400 members and is the northern most part of the NStQ, which has more than 2,600 members living in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. • Along with the Xatśūll First Nation, the NStQ is comprised of three other Secwepemc communities: o Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake) o T’exelc (Williams Lake) o Stswecem’c – Xgat’tem (Dog Creek – Canoe Creek)
• The NStQ are in the fifth stage of treaty negotiations with the Province and the Government of Canada. An agreement in principle was signed in July 2018.