The right to act as a nation


Re: First Nation talks casino, Dec. 4 letters.


Re: First Nation talks casino, Dec. 4 letters.

The South Surrey casino issue and the Semiahmoo First Nation discussion for their own tourist center (Semiahmoo ‘prime location’ for casino; Band ‘always open to casino,’ Nov. 20) have focused questions about the band’s legitimacy and intentions.

In regards to aboriginal rights, Jack Brown and his paper, The Semiahmoo People, clearly shows the Semiahmoo are a distinct people who belong to a group of nations known collectively as Straits Salish.

Their chief characteristic was a migratory way of life, centered on salmon. The Semiahmoo traveled every summer to camps on Point Roberts, setting up reef nets to catch sockeye. They also intermarried with another tribe, the Snokomish, who inhabited the Boundary Bay area.

By the mid-19th century, both peoples suffered population loss from disease and inter-tribal conflict. They amalgamated, and, when the international boundary line was drawn up, most Semiahmoo were included in Canada, and Snokomish territory became Semiahmoo.

While 1876 Treaty 6 signatories on the Prairies were entitled to 640 acres of land per family of five, the Semiahmoo were given 392 acres total by the B.C. provincial government, which was soon whittled down to 319 due to railroad, highway, and park expansions.

The Semiahmoo retain the right to act as a nation, in political, cultural, and economic terms, which are aboriginal rights underscored by first occupation of the land and guaranteed by Section 35 of the Constitution.

While Semiahmoo activism may be unsettling to some, aboriginals and non-aboriginals should look at how they can co-operate in business and environmental protection.

Bob Burgel, Surrey



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

Stephen Gregorig, co-owner of Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks, holds a soon-to-be-filled can of Orion 1-1. Smugglers’ Trail is launching the beer in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Honour House—a home that supports soldiers, veterans, first responders, and their families. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
‘It’s a tip of the cap,’ Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks launches new beer to help support B.C. charity

Sales of Orion 1-1, a poppy-seed IPA, will help raise funds for Honour House

Photo posted to
Eight Surrey students among 170 Horatio Alger scholarship winners in Canada

‘Need-based scholarships’ given to high school students

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo: Lauren Collins)
Six classes at four Surrey schools isolating after COVID-19 variants detected

District superintendent says schools given notices about variant exposures Monday night

File photo
Surrey council members give themselves a raise in secret meeting

A redacted report was subsequently posted to the city’s website

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read