Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir sees a lot of positives for the band when looking back on 2019.
One of the most exciting outcomes of last year was gambling revenue the band is now using to help preserve Secwépemc language and culture.
“For the first time in history, we started receiving gaming revenue,” Casimir said.
With those funds from Victoria, the band has created a language-revitalization department that will provide classes and resources for band members to help in the revitalization of the Secwépemc language.
Casimir noted many Tk’emlups members have lost the language as a result of the residential school system.
Another exciting development in 2019, Casimir noted, was passage of the federal Bill C-92 — an Indigenous child welfare law that comes into effect on Jan. 1.
The new law creates national standards on how provincial and territorial child welfare agencies deal with apprehended Indigenous children and creates jurisdiction for Indigenous governing bodies to pass laws governing their own child welfare systems trumping provincial, territorial and federal laws.
“With that coming into play, there’s definitely more dialogue,” Casimir said. “It’s about how it’s going to be impacting the Secwépemc Family Services and the band. For us, it’s about working with them and vice versa.”
Bus service to the reserve has been in place for more than a year and Casimir said the band’s planning department and the city have been evaluating the stops that were implemented.
“They may be adding more. They’ll be looking at the usage,” Casimir said.
The agreement is for a five-year term, with the city retaining authority on the distribution of extra service hours offered by BC Transit, but each party will retain the authority to make decisions on transit service levels within its boundaries.
“So far, we’ve heard nothing but good about it and it’s something we want to keep up on,” Casimir said.
She said 2019 was dominated by the band council getting up to speed on finances, strategic plans carried over from previous leadership and determining next steps,
Creation of an elders lodge was among the main issues during the 2018 Tk’emlups election campaign and Casimir said the facility is something the band continues to work toward.
“It’s not anything that can be done overnight or within the first year or even the first three years,” she said, adding officials remain in the information-gathering stage, but have identified land near the Secwépemc Child and Family Services building on Chilcotin Road as its eventual location.
This spring, the band plans to undertake fire-mitigation work by clearing brush on the land known as Indian Point, at the nexus of the Thompson rivers, across from Sandman Centre.
Casimir said the band is also planning to do some invasive weed management on its lands in 2020.
Goals for 2020 include economic-development planning for lands the band has near Rayleigh and for pieces of land closer to the Chief Louis Centre.
“Our next steps are going to be ensuring that, one, we truly are open for business and, two, that when developers want to come and do some development on our land, that there’s a nice streamlined approach on how and what needs to be done,” Casimir said.
Tk’emlups te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir (left) and Mayor Ken Christian sign a cultural heritage letter of understanding between the city and First Nation in February.