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10797In Vancouver, golf drives treaty concerns

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  • Robert Schmidt
    Jul 10, 2007
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      http://www.canada.com/theprovince/columnists/story.html?id=50250e7f-0957-4a
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      In Vancouver, golf drives treaty concerns
      Land-claims rally smothered by university tee-time tussle

      James McNulty
      The Province

      Sunday, July 01, 2007

      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@...

      © The Vancouver Province 2007
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