Our Path Forward

A message from Skalúlmecw Chief Dean Nelson and Council to all Lílwat citizens

We have lived under the Indian Act and an oppressive reserve system for more than a century. It’s time for change. For many years, I have had a vision where Líl̓wat Nation is in charge of our full territory and in control of our future. After I was elected as Chief, I approached our
Councillors with my thoughts, and over many discussions we have developed a common vision for a new future.

As leaders, we all want change for the betterment of our people. We see a future where Líl̓wat Nation stewards our territory and where our people share in the full benefit of development on it. We see a time when we have moved beyond the Indian Act to our own authority — a time where our leadership and administration are able to provide a higher level of service to our children, our Elders and all of our people.

As leaders, we know that we cannot act independently without you. Lilwat Title and Rights belong to all of our citizens: only our people can define our rights and title and decide what to do with these powers. What we can do as leaders is give everyone an opportunity to understand Líl̓wat Title and Rights and provide opportunities for our people to come together and create a common vision for the Líl̓watNation.

Although a vision looks forward to the future, before we can define our vision as a community, we need to make sure we all understand our history. Each and every one of us shares a responsibility to learn about who we were, who we are now and how the Indian Act has impacted our nation. We need to understand how recent victories in the Supreme Court of Canada and the recognition and affirmation of Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982 have provided us with the opportunity to regain control of Lilwat Title and Rights. Most importantly, we all need to recognize that we are the only ones who can take action to regain control and create a new future.

Chiefs and Council collectively share a commitment to moving beyond the Indian Act, and we agree on how to get this done.

This is a significant undertaking, and our success will depend on the trust that we have among ourselves. This trust will allow us to work together and give us the strength and power to work for change. Lilwat Nation’s future depends on each of us coming together in trust and good faith to create a common vision for our people and define Lilwat Title and Rights to create a future where we control our territory and destiny.