Supreme Court of Canada decisions such as Delgamuukw recognizing Aboriginal title to their traditional territory, which should have had overnight provincial policy implications, are finally being acknowledged by the province. And we're seeing that recognition locally too.
A formalized process of consulting First Nations before making land development decisions is well on its way with the draft protocol agreement between the Sechelt Indian Band and Sunshine Coast Regional District, and also with the joint letter this week to Tom Christensen, provincial minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, asking for a process for resolving Crown land issues.
Land issues won't be solved overnight. But it's promising to see two local governments on the Coast sitting down and putting their frustrations out on the table before it could someday reach the point of blockades and violence.
So although it's frustrating when you're being stalled from building a dock on the foreshore in front of your property, it's important to think of the history behind it.
Although this is simplifying a long and complex history, imagine if a stranger showed up on your property, took over your home and threatened you and your neighbours with a deadly foreign disease if you didn't leave. Then if you finally one day got a piece of that land back, why should you give it up?
So what we're left with today is a situation where we need to learn to co-exist on land where different parties are claiming ownership.
While some may not agree with use of Band lands for fast-food restaurants and gravel extraction, that's their right and that's an issue to be dealt with within the Band. What we don't notice because it's off away from the highway is all the work the Band's natural resources department is doing in co-operation with the federal and provincial governments to restore fish and wildlife populations, such as building fish rearing and spawning channels and elk relocation and recovery programs.
The general community should follow the Supreme Court and provincial government's lead and recognize that land issues are not going to go away. Maybe someday down the road an organization such as the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs could replace the provincial government as the governing authority over the land.
Or if the province continues down this road to reconciliation, then maybe someday the flagpole in front of Premier Gordon Campbell's beach house in Halfmoon Bay, waving the Canadian and British Columbian flags, would have a totem pole standing beside it.