May 25, 2015
BC Electoral Boundaries Commission:
My name is Elsie Kipp. I am the Administrator for the Yale First Nation. I offer my full support to the Preliminary Report of the BC electoral boundaries commission. The inclusion of Hope and the Fraser Canyon communities of Yale, Boston Bar, Spuzzum and Boothroyd is a step in the right direction.
Yale First Nation is an independent First Nations Band government, with reserves and additional traditional territory extending from west of Hope at Ruby Creek on Highway 7, all the way north on Highway 1 to just south of the Village of Spuzzum, on both sides of the Fraser River. In 2008, Yale FN asserted its independence and signed our own separate Land Treaty with Canada and the Province of British Columbia.
After the coming of the Europeans to BC, Yale gained additional importance during the Gold Rush and soon became the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. It was the head of river navigation for paddle-wheelers and was also the jumping-off point for the historic Cariboo Wagon Trail, the same route along which the railroads and modern highways were carved out.
The re-instatement of Hope and the Fraser Canyon into Fraser-Nicola is of great significance as the current Commission responded to the voices of Aboriginal people. Six years ago, the Aboriginal people in our area were not even consulted. Unfortunately, based on the submission made by the then-Mayor of Hope, we were taken out of our constituency of Yale-Lillooet and forced to join with Chilliwack. We had no common linkages with the people of the City of Chilliwack. Our traditional links as Aboriginal peoples and our common links as residents of the Fraser Canyon were, and continue to be, with the communities to the north along the Fraser River and to the east over the mountains and along the rivers feeding into the Fraser River.
When BC came into Confederation in 1871, one of the original twelve constituencies that extended to the Alberta border carried our historic name Yale. It included all of what is now known as Fraser-Nicola plus the Hope area within its boundaries. In 1893, when that constituency was divided into three parts we were included in Yale-West. In 1903, the original name Yale was re-instated. Then in 1966, what remained of two historic electoral districts was joined together to form “Yale-Lillooet”. This constituency survived until 2009 when, for no good reason, after 138 years it was divided into two with little justification. This angered the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike in the Hope and Yale area because the historic names “Yale” and “Lillooet” disappeared from the electoral maps of British Columbia. You have corrected this historic wrong by re-uniting Yale-Lillooet. All that remains is to give back our historic name back as well.
A very sound case has been made by you that Hope and the Fraser Canyon’s “community interests” lie with Fraser-Nicola. Furthermore, the Hope area will again enjoy “more effective representation” as correctly pointed out in the Preliminary Report. The cries of opposition to these justifiable changes are those of self-interested politicians who are attempting to over-turn the independent work of the Commission. I have seen the partisan ads (attached) that have appeared in the Hope Standard and the questionable petition being circulated by them. I urge the Commission to stay the course and endorse your recommendations in your final report. Thank you.
Elsie Kipp, Government Administrator
Yale First Nation