Title should be transferred this week as Simpcw First Nation acquires 20 acres of land next to Raft River, according to Steven Patterson, the band’s land manager.
“Simpcw First Nation is a very progressive community and this is their first community-owned fee simple lands,” Patterson said. “They will be a taxpaying landholder just like everyone else, and it is a key move towards getting away from the strained relationship with the federal government and moving towards independence.”
The area was a traditional fishing site and was a gathering point for families as they migrated north and south throughout the seasons.
Patterson said it is too early to say exactly what the plan is yet, but he believed the intent is to keep it as fee simple as opposed to converting into reserve. He noted that if the land is given reserve status it then would be subject to the rather archaic terms of the Indian Act.
This area is located almost right in the center of Simpcw First Nation traditional territory.
Chief Rita Matthew has said she would like to hold a celebration at the site once the ground is dry enough.
People alive today remember members of the band using the Raft River area as a base for berry-picking and fishing in the region.
The shoreline of the property was until recently seen by many local residents almost as a public beach.
However, previous landowners blocked access. Simpcw First Nation apparently plans to develop the property in cooperation with District of Clearwater, but what direction that development will follow is not yet clear.