“I believe this is a sign of the changes that are needed to make reconciliation something real for our members and First Nations communities around the province,” said Kukpi7 (Chief) Sheri Sellars, Xatśūll First Nation, in a news release. “The opportunity this creates puts the tools for economic development into the hands of a community whose life has always been centred around the land. The community is celebrating this achievement – one that provides for a future of security and self-determination for our members.”
The province purchased the ranch, formerly known as the Carpenter Mountain Ranch, along with its Crown land range tenure, cattle, hay and equipment, for $8 million. It is leasing the ranch to Xatśūll First Nation until a treaty is reached, at which point ownership will transfer to the nation. The purchase agreement also includes provision for a grant towards the operating costs for the ranch’s first year.
The purchase includes 1,574 hectares (3,890 acres) of deeded land, 113 hectares (280 acres) of additional pasture, more than 500 head of cattle, extensive outbuildings and two residences. The working ranch has 486 hectares (1,200 acres) of hay production and plenty of irrigation.
The Carpenter Mountain Ranch was not a part of the sale and is still held by the previous owners. A new name will be chosen by the Xatśūll First Nation.
“These lands create a new economic opportunity for Xatśūll First Nation. Recognizing the importance of this property to the Nation makes this achievement even more meaningful,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Working together and reaching milestones together opens up the path to treaty and long-term reconciliation, and that benefits the Nation and surrounding communities.”
The acquisition was made as part of the NStQ treaty negotiation process and helps to address ranching tenures impacted by proposed treaty settlement lands. Including the ranch lands as part of treaty has been a long-standing aspiration for NStQ community members, who see the acquisition as an important part of the reconciliation process. This prompted efforts to acquire the property, increasing the size of the treaty land package and securing several water licences, two grazing licences and a grazing lease for members of Soda Creek – Deep Creek (Xatśūll – Cmet’em).