Letter: DND response to OKIB unacceptable

Until OKIB tells DND how it plans to use the land, DND won't clean up live munitions from OKIB land.

To the editor:

You want to know what it’s like for the Okanagan Indian Band having thousands of acres littered with bombs?

Scene

Mom = The Monarch

Uncle = Department of National Defense

You = An Okanagan Indian

So you own this beautiful home out in the country. It’s not as close as you would like it to be, so you don’t always get out there.

One day you get a call from your mom, “Let your uncle borrow your house for a while, he and some friends are going to do some training.”

You don’t want to to do it, but hey—mom already ‘voluntold’ you that it’s going to happen.

You let your uncle borrow your country house and a few weeks after he’s done with it, you decide to go check on the property.

You arrive and it’s a disaster.

The entire place is a pig sty. There are holes in the wall, someone stole your mounted moose head, beer cans strewn about and they took the doors and windows off so you’re unable to even use the house yourself now.

“Uh, Mom, did you see what uncle did to my house?” you ask.

“Yes dear, I heard about it.”

“Is he going to clean it up?”

“He said he would…”

Fast forward 50 years and you still can’t use your house.

You call your uncle and say “You know uncle, I think it’s time you clean up the mess you made of my country home.”

“Hey kiddo!” says uncle, “Yep, I’ve committed to cleaning up the mess and I’ll assess the situation just as soon as you tell me what your plans are for the property—are you going to have a party?”

“No uncle, I just want my house back to how you found it.”

“Well, until you tell me what you need it cleaned for, I just can’t drop everything and come clean up that mess,” says uncle.

“You mean your mess?” you retort.

“Let’s not point fingers.”

Fade

**

If the Department of National Defense filled your property with unexploded bombs, grenades, white phosphorous and other munitions, you wouldn’t accept the DND’s response.

“…DND will continue to assess and initiate clearances once the Band has finalized its economic development implementation plan and timelines.”

Internet trolls aside (hello!) more thoughtful people with the most elementary sense of right and wrong know this: For better or for worse, despite being second class citizens on their own land—unable to vote, buy cattle or leave the reserve without permission—dozens of men and women from the Okanagan Indian Band volunteered to serve this country during the Boer War, First World War, Second World War and beyond. Their sacrifices helped provide the freedom we all enjoy today and I think a real tribute to a man like George McLean, an OKIB member who single handedly captured 19 prisoners at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, would be to clean the land he came from and the land he fought for.

You wouldn’t accept it if it happened to your house or to your property, so why should the OKIB?

[on behalf of] all my relations,

Joey Jack, Kelowna