The Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation has waited more than 15 years for Canada and British Columbia to deal with a problem on the boundary of their reserve.
The Snaw-Naw-As reserve is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island. In 1888 a surveyor made an error, and a wedge of land the length of the eastern boundary was mistakenly separated from the reserve. Many decisions made since that time have repeated the survey’s mistake. This means that provincial roads as well as private properties have been placed on land that is properly part of the reserve.
This error was discovered in 1996. Despite years of attempted negotiations by Snaw-Naw-As, meaningful steps have not been taken by the federal or the provincial government to resolve the problem. Now the Snaw-Naw-As are taking the issue to the B.C. Supreme Court.
On Aug. 12, 2011 the Snaw-Naw-As filed a claim against the provincial government and the private property owners for trespass.
“We regret having to take this step”, said Chief David Bob, elected chief of the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation. “We realize that this will mean getting our neighbours involved in a court action, but we hope that the governments will act quickly to resolve the issue.”
Snaw-Naw-As also claims that Canada has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to protect the Snaw-Naw-As reserve.
“We ask that Canada live up to its obligation to protect the land that is rightfully ours”, said Chief David Bob.
“We have waited long enough for this issue to be resolved. Canada should act swiftly. It has the responsibility to ensure protection of reserve lands for the benefit of Aboriginal peoples,” said Snaw-Naw-As member Tom Bob, a member of the Board of Directors of the Te'mexw Treaty Association.