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10751In Vancouver, golf drives treaty concerns

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  • Don
    Jul 1, 2007
      In Vancouver, golf drives treaty concerns
      Land-claims rally smothered by university tee-time tussle

      James McNulty
      The Province


      Sunday, July 01, 2007
      http://www.canada.com/theprovince/columnists/story.html?id=50250e7f-0957-4a13-a39e-fa36d3bb5e49


      The national day of aboriginal protest has thankfully come and gone without violence and death.

      It highlighted the fact that after centuries of mainstream society indifference and government malpractice, conditions on many reserves remain appalling.

      In Vancouver, the latest treaty headlines obsess over the potential transfer of a tony public golf course to the Musqueam band.

      We do not know if the whining west-side golf crowd took time to notice Friday's peaceful protest march downtown.

      The dreadful reality is that far too many aboriginals continue to live with inadequate housing and drinking water while carrying Canada's lowest school graduation rates and highest suicide and infant-mortality rates.

      Then there is the matter of unresolved land claims, a subject that has dragged on since the days of King George III. More than 800 treaties across Canada remain unresolved, half of them in B.C.

      Federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice proposes to spend $2.5 billion over the next 10 years to fund a new mediation tribunal of judges with the power to order settlements averaging $6.5 million.

      While a worthy idea, it should be noted that the tribunal plan -- even operating at full capacity for the next 10 years -- will still leave more than 400 treaties unresolved a decade from now.

      In B.C., treaty talks generate sporadic interest at best, unless they involve the University Golf Club, smack in the middle of Vancouver's sleek and wealthy West Point Grey, home riding to Premier Gordon Campbell.

      Three other treaty proposals touted by his government are playing second fiddle to the great golf symphony of fire.

      The Lheidli Tenneh band in Prince George recently voted down a $13-million, 4,000-hectare offer, and Victoria sweats as two other votes approach -- one in July for the Tsawwassen band and a later ballot for the Maa-nulth on Vancouver Island.

      None of them have generated the kind of fuss created over news that the venerable university links are likely to be transferred to the Musqueam in a land settlement.

      The Musqueam are short of housing, but Chief Ernest Campbell has promised in writing to "keep it as a golf course until 2033."

      By then, the Musqueam will have also had the private, well-heeled Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club returned when its lease expires in 25 years.

      Some nattily attired golf naysayers are offended that their beloved tee times at the university club may eventually make way for Musqueam housing.

      To which the question must be asked: What is more important, convenient tee times for the West Point Grey set, or housing for aboriginals with legitimate needs and a solid land claim?

      If the need for another golf course is so great in West Point Grey, a new one could be built in 763-hectare Pacific Spirit Park, next door.

      Should Pacific Spirit Park be deemed too sacrosanct for a golf course, who's to argue the university course is too sacrosanct for the Musqueam?

      One more thought. If the Musqueam took over operations at the private Marine Drive Golf Club, women could finally gain entry to the male-only Bullpen lounge.

      E-mail: jmcnulty@...


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