Statement of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation on Nagwentled (Farwell Canyon)

Nagwentled (Farwell Canyon) is Tŝilhqot’in territory, and it will always be Tŝilhqot’in territory. It winds through the caretaker area of Tl’esqox, one of the six Tŝilhqot’in communities that comprise the Tŝilhqot’in Nation.

Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) recently announced that it intends to start a “planning exercise” for Nagwentled. This is the latest public statement from WLFN asserting that Nagwentled is Secwepemc territory.

WLFN did not reach out to Tl’esqox or the Tŝilhqot’in Nation before publicly announcing this “planning
exercise” in the backyard of Tl’esqox, in Tŝilhqot’in territory. WLFN did not invite our leadership to discuss this planning exercise or make any effort to engage our Nation before issuing a press release. This approach is highly disrespectful to our Nation and to our elders and members that cherish Nagwentled as Tŝilhqot’in lands.

We would prefer to deal with this issue honourably, between Nations, and not through press statements. However, given WLFN’s public statements and escalation of conflict, we have no choice but to issue this statement.

The Chilko salmon (ts’eman) that run through Nagwentled are one of the last, strong salmon runs in North America. Chilko salmon stocks spawn in the heart of declared title lands, deep in Tŝilhqot’in territory. The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has fought and sacrificed for generations to keep these waters pristine. We have turned down vast sums of money, while other First Nations have signed business deals with open-pit mines discharging directly into the Fraser and Quesnel systems. Each First Nation decides the priorities of its people, and we are not critical of the paths chosen by other First Nations. Our Nation has chosen to exercise not only our rights at Nagwentled, but more importantly our responsibilities to our
sacred waters and our salmon stocks.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation opposes archaeological work or any other disturbance at Nagwentled without our
approval. We will be reaffirming to British Columbia and Canada that Nagwentled is Tsilhqot’in territory and that our people will always carry the responsibility to manage and steward these lands and waters.