Lyackson First Nation troubled by damage to maple trees

Published on September 1, 2011
Chemainus — 

The Lyackson First Nation is asking for assistance in identifying people or persons who have trespassed on our land and damaged maples. It was found that a number of maple trees have had their burls cut. Burls are used for many decorative purposes, such as tables, bowls, cutting boards and trinkets and may be sold at farmers markets or art stores, etc.

Lyackson received reports from some Valdes Island residents that trespassers in an old fishing boat, towing a herring skiff with an ATV landed on Lyackson Indian Reserve #3. Subsequently, Lyackson staff and a member of the elected council identified and then notified police of recent incidences of trespass and illegal timber harvest on Lyackson Indian Reserve #3, which is located on the north end of Valdes Island. It is illegal to harvest trees on Indian Reserves without a permit from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Lyackson First Nation retained the services of a professional forester to assess the damage that has been done to the maples.  According to the advice that the First Nation has received, burl removal will have an adverse effect on the health of the tree, particularly if more than half of the trunk has been removed, which is the case in many of the 20 trees.

Councilor Veronica Kauwell discovered the damaged maple trees on a recent routine patrol on the island. She is gravely concerned about this blatant disregard for the First Nation’s exclusive rights over their reserve lands and the harm that the burl removal will cause to the maple trees, as are all members of Council and the Chief.  Chief Pahalicktun and Council as a whole are gravely disturbed about this incident.

Chief and Council have instituted the Lyackson Eyes on the Island program that ensures that all the Reserves are being watched and patrolled on a regular basis. This renewed presence on the island by the First Nation was effective in locating an ATV that was described as being the one in the herring skiff. The program is also the result over concern of other illegal activity, trespass and vandalism on our island over recent years.

An additional measure which will be implemented immediately will be the introduction of camera surveillance; trespassers may be under surveillance anywhere on any of Lyackson’s reserves at any time.

Anyone with information about the trespass and unauthorized removal of the maple burls on Lyackson Indian Reserve #3 is asked to contact the Gabriola RCMP Detachment 250-247-8333. It is unknown if the fishing vessel or ATV is involved, but the Lyackson would like the RCMP to speak with this person(s), in case they witnessed any suspicious activities. If anyone knows of this ATV, please have the owner contact the RCMP in case they have any information as to its reason for being landed on Lyackson’s Reserve. If anyone is planning to visit at any time in the future any of the Lyackson tumuhw (lands), please obtain authorization from Lyackson First Nation.

The Lyackson First Nation wish to acknowledge and raise our hands to the Valdes Island residents that alerted us to this trespass, Au Sii’em[i], huy tse’ep q’a.[ii]

For more information please contact:

Chief Pahalicktun, Richard Thomas

Lyackson First Nation at 250-246-5019