Indians Unite in Major Drive To Get Compensation for Land
By AL FORREST
British Columbia’s 45.000 Indians today laid claim to all the land in the province.
Tsartlip band chief Philip Paul 33, of West Saanich announced today BC’s 219 bands have united to demand compensation for lands which he said were never surrendered to the while man.
“In addition we are seeking compensation for the 100 years of hardship and suffering the Indian people have undergone since Confederation.”
At the founding meeting of the Confederation of Native Indians of B.C. in Vancouver Saturday Mr. Paul was named chief spokesman. Public announcement of the formation of the united front was withheld until today.
BRIEF TO OTTAWA
A brief outlining their demands will be sent to the Indian Claims Commission at Ottawa, he said.
“We are not primarily interested in money, although large amounts are involved.” he said.
“British Columbia Indians are the only ones in Canada without a treaty. We want a complete agreement with the federal government to cover education, hospital care and Indian lands”
Mr. Paul said Indians would retain the title to British Columbia until an agreement was reached.
“Up until now we have been at the mercy of the federal government. Now we are going to play our trump card.”
Mr. Paul said the new demand by Indians pushes Into the background a proposal by Municipal Affairs Minister Dan Campbell that Indians be granted title to their lands and be permitted to form municipalities.
“That’s an interesting suggestion but it will have to wait until we have signed a treaty,” he said.
“Mr. Campbell and Mr. Laing (federal resources minister) have been planning our future but they haven’t consulted us.”
Mr. Paul said Indians hoped to conclude a treaty with Ottawa before the end of summer.
Lawyers will be retained to present the case for the Indians he said.
Work on the brief will begin at the second meeting of the new organization to be held May 6 at Musqueam Reserve in Point Grey.
Details have not been worked out but Indians were thinking in terms of a complete overhaul in their education and medical care program. Extension of reserve boundaries has also been discussed.
“Reserves are not the ultimate solution for the Indian,” Mr. Paul said. “Perhaps gaining title to our land as the provincial government suggested is the answer. But we want to be consulted, not have it thrust upon us.”
“When the white man put us on reserves he thought the Indian people would eventually die out”
“Nothing much was done about communicable diseases and hundreds died. But the Indians survived and now is the fastest growing ethnic group in Canada. Reserve conditions have become totally inadequate.”
The Saturday meeting in Fisherman’s Hall in Vancouver named Mr. Paul executive director, the chief executive officer for the new confederation.
Deputy leader is Willard Sparrow of the Musqueam Band in Point Grey.
Treasurer is Percy Paul of North Vancouver, son of the late chief Andy Paul. Ten directors were also elected.
“The new organization has been in the planning stage for many months,” Mr. Paul said. “We founded the confederation on Saturday and I was instructed to make the announcement today.”