The Kwikwetlem First Nation has written a letter to the provincial government and the City of Coquitlam stating that they claim land title interests to the 250-acre Riverview Hospital grounds.
This is following the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision to grant title to the Tsilhqot’in Nation for a large body of land in the south-central part of B.C.
Chief Ron Giesbrecht explained that the First Nation has been working on this plan for over 20 years, and based on the Tsilhqot ‘in Nation decision, now was the right time to act. In mid June, the City of Coquitlam unveiled its plans to turn the buildings of the former Hospital into a ‘Coquitlam Health Campus.’ The land has been vacant for many years as the oldest part of the building closed in 1983 and has not been used since then.
In their statement, the Kwikwetlem First Nation highlight that they have had nearly 9,000 years of occupation of the territory which the Riverview hospital is built on. Furthermore, the First Nation’s group notes that they have thousands of customs, traditions, and stories tied to the land, which also provides evidence of their rightful territorial ownership.
If title is granted to them, the Kwikwetlem First Nation intend to develop the land in a way that economically benefits the Nation as a landowner.
Read the full statement by the Kwikwetlem First Nation below:
The Kwikwetlem First Nation wishes to put the Province and its agencies, local municipalities, and citizen’s groups on notice that the Kwikwetlem claim aboriginal title interests to all the lands associated with Riverview Hospital (Riverview Lands), among other areas in their traditional territory.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation have plied the waters and lived on the land of their traditional territory since time immemorial. Evidence of the Kwikwetlem First Nation’s occupation of the territory reaches back nearly 9000 years. In particular, Elders’ stories tell of the Kwikwetlem intensively using and occupying the lands surrounding what is now referred to as the Coquitlam River, including the Riverview Lands. The Kwikwetlem First Nation have thousands of years of traditions tied to the Riverview Lands, including the use and occupation of the land itself.
Through community consultation and legal review, the Kwikwetlem First Nation have decided to announce their position on Riverview based on their claim of title. The Kwikwetlem First Nation wish to make it clear that they expect to become an owner of the Riverview Lands and lead the future development of these lands.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation envision a development scenario for Riverview that is based on highest and best use with a goal towards maximizing the benefits to the Nation as land owner. In response to the myriad of recommendations for the future development of the Riverview Lands, the Kwikwetlem First Nation will contemplate any use that makes economic sense.
Feature Image: Niftyniall via Google Maps.