April 14, 2015
My name is Ken Hansen. I am the Chief of the Yale First Nation situated at the head of river navigation on the Fraser River. I write this on behalf of Chief and Council.
Although we did not get the opportunity to attend the Electoral Boundaries Commission’s hearings last fall, nonetheless, we fully support the residents of Hope and the Fraser Canyon who rightfully fought to have changes made to electoral boundaries in our traditional territory. Toward that end, I want to thank the Commissioners for listening to the voices of the people of the Fraser Canyon and for re-instating us back into Fraser-Nicola. I fully believe that our interests will be better served this way.
Since we were put into Chilliwack-Hope in 2008 it has become difficult to get attention brought to bear on our area’s issues by senior governments. Chilliwack is an urban centre with fast growth and an expanding economy, while the Fraser Canyon consists of small, rural communities struggling to survive just as our neighbours to the north and east of us. We have strong economic, cultural and historic ties with the people in these latter communities in Fraser-Nicola, especially with the first nations residing in the Lytton, Lillooet, Ashcroft and Merritt areas.
For 138 years, the constituency we were a part of always carried the name of our community of “Yale”. Yale, along with Lillooet, was one of the original 12 provincial constituencies in 1871. In 1894, it was divided into three constituencies – Yale-West, Yale-East, and Yale-North. In 1903, the name Yale, by itself, was revived for Yale-West. In 1966, the remnants of the original “Lillooet” constituency were added to the remnants of Yale electoral district to form the new “Yale-Lillooet” constituency, which, unfortunately, was divided in 2009 against the objections of the Fraser Canyon’s First Nations peoples.
Now that Yale is, once again, back in the same constituency as Lillooet, it is historically appropriate that the name “Yale-Lillooet” be re-instated. The communities of Yale and Lillooet were both very significant in British Columbia’s history and in the cultural, political, and economic development of this great province of ours. Thus, these historic communities deserve to be recognized as they were for the better part of 150 years. We ask the Commission to change the name back to Yale-Lillooet instead of Fraser-Nicola.
Thank you for your time.
Ken Hansen, Chief, Yale First Nation