By Times Staff
The North Thompson Provincial Park Campground is closed to the general public for the Indigenous Traditional Tattoo Action and Gathering.
While the gathering is taking place, the general public isn’t able to use the park for camping and day-use.
Refunds are being offered to people with reservations, according to the provincial government.
The gathering is held in solidarity with the Secwepemc Land Defenders, an independent advocacy group that the Chief and Council of Simpcw First Nation wished to make clear, is not affiliated with Simpcw.
“While we support the use of our parklands by Secwepemc People and events to promote the protection and preservation of local Indigenous lands and cultural sites, this event (was not) associated with our Nation,” said Simpcw Chief, Shelly Loring.
“Simpcw First Nation was not involved in the planning or organizing of this event, and while we have been in contact with BC Parks, we were not involved in the decision to close the park.”
Chief and Council also wanted to make the distinction between Simpcw First Nation, the Secwepemc Nation and the Secwepemc Land Defenders, clear.
Chief Loring explained that Simpcw First Nation is a division of the Secwepemc (or Shuswap) Nation.
“Traditionally, the Secwepemc collectively protected the territories of the Shuswap; however, each Secwepemc Nation was and is separate and independent, with its own territory boundaries within the larger Secwepemculecw,” she said.
Regarding the North Thompson Provincial Park, Loring clarified that the park is located right in the heart of Simpcw Territory, making Simpcw the proper titleholders to the lands.
“Only Simpcw has the authority to assert title and rights to the parklands,” she said.
“As an independent advocacy group, the Secwepemc Land Defenders do not have any authority to claim rights to our lands, in fact, in our view, the Secwepemc Land Defenders ought to have obtained Simpcw’s consent to hold the event on our lands.”
The North Thompson Provincial Park is well established and confirmed as an important traditional site for Simpcw First Nation.
Chief and council intend to engage in government-to-government discussions with the Province towards developing a joint agreement with respect to the management of the parklands in Simpcw Territory.
“It’s one of our priorities as a Nation,” Loring said.
“Such agreement will be based on the recognition of Simpcw’s Aboriginal Title and Rights to its parklands, and in doing so, will confirm Simpcw’s role in the management and protection of our lands and resources.”
Anyone who had reservations last weekend can call Discover Camping at 1 800 689-9025 or more information.