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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Nations back away from homeless protesters asserting aboriginal title

VANCOUVER - Protesters given eviction notices for camping in a Vancouver park claim they have a right to put down stakes because they're on unceded territory, but the three local First Nations say the campers don't speak for them.

The City of Vancouver has issued two recent eviction notices to a group of people who have put up about a dozen tents, including a teepee, in Oppenheimer Park.

Audrey Siegl of the Musqueam Nation says many of the campers are aboriginal and have nowhere else to go, and the city can't force them out because the park is on unceded Coast Salish territory.

Sarah Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Tsleil Waututh (slay-WAH'-tooth) Nation, says Oppenheimer Park is considered unceded traditional territory of the Tsleil Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations, but protesters who are asserting aboriginal title are doing so individually and don't represent their nations.

Thomas says none of the bands' leadership were consulted about the homeless camp, though council members are meeting now to discuss the issue.

There have been several territorial claims, legal actions and even an eviction notice to fishermen, loggers and CN Rail from First Nations in the province since the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the Tsilhqot'in (sill-KOH'-teen) First Nation's title to its traditional territory. -CP-

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