Last week, I argued that one compelling reason to take interest in the March 9 Chief and Council elections in Mount Currie is the economy.
Chief and Council are elected by Mount Currie Band Members to be the political representation of the Lil’wat Nation. Their influence, both directly and indirectly, is far-ranging throughout the Sea-to-Sky region.
There are many reasons why you should care about the election in Mount Currie.
Here is the second reason: the environment.
Lil’wat Nation has an enormous role in maintaining the character and integrity of the natural environment in the Pemberton area.
For example, Lil’wat has successfully negotiated for over 10,000 hectares of land to be protected as Conservancies – the same as a Class A park under provincial law. These areas were protected for their deep ecological and cultural importance to the Lil’wat. However, their protection benefits everyone in the region – from an aesthetic, spiritual, and tourism perspectives.
In addition to this enormous gift to the Sea-to-Sky, however, Lil’wat also has an on-going role in minimizing the environmental impact of economic activity. Given that they have a legal role in evaluating land-uses that might impact aboriginal title means that they have a direct say in all Crown land applications. This is over 100 land use applications each year.
They have no qualms in requiring developers change their design plans to protect sensitive habitat. Lil’wat regularly opposes industrial developments that would impact the Birkenhead salmon run for example. They also require significant environmental studies and monitoring before, during, and after project that goes well beyond provincial standards.
Now, there is a fine balance between preserving and protecting the environment for future generations and encouraging economic activity that will provide employment and a higher standard of living to local residents. Getting the balance right is an on-going challenge and it is easy to see the implications that short-sighted, disinterested, corrupt or incompetent leaders could have for everyone.
A healthy environment that can sustain our shared values for recreation, spiritual, and sustenance needs requires a stable, competent political leadership and that’s why you should care who is elected on March 9th.