Editor’s Note: This is part seventy of a series of testimonies given by our aboriginal neighbors. We are posting these in an attempt to allow everyone to better understand just how badly Canada has neglected the first nations of Canada. These are the words submitted to the JRP Hearings, to Enbridge and to the Government of Canada
ORAL PRESENTATION BY MR. LARRY SAGALON
MR. SAGALON: My name is Larry Sagalon. I am a Keyoh Holder from Great Beaver Lake.
Great Beaver Lake is 20 miles long and it’s 23 miles from Fort St. James. Great Beaver Lake has five main Keyohs around the lake, and it’s also surrounded by other Keyohs. The name of our Keyoh is Adih K’enla, and it’s been in our family for — it’s been handed down to us, and the same as the other Keyohs around Beaver Lake.
There’s three villages that were around the lake before the European contact, and Adih K’enla is one of the villages. There is a black dot right here that’s a village that’s been documented by Julian Steward, and there’s another village at the end of the lake here. And there’s supposed to be another village by Salmon River.
When the fur trade came to our area, the Hudson’s Bay Company tried to break up the Keyohs into smaller areas so that they could get more people out trapping, but our grandfathers wouldn’t let that happen. They kept the Keyohs the same. That’s how it is today.
There’s two main creeks that feed into Great Beaver. There’s one right here that’s called Adenokah (ph), and the other is Beaver Creek. And Beaver Creek is also connected to Salmon River, and Salmon River flows all the way down this way to — flows into the Fraser River.
And the Adenokah (ph) Creek is right in the path of the pipeline, and the pipeline is going to be — going about 16 kilometres by the lake, just about this whole area here. And the closest to the lake is about half a kilometre away, and that is very close to the lake.
There is also a grizzly bear den in sight in the — in here. That’s the Shasti (ph) Trail, and there’s another grizzly bear den in sight by Jumping Lake. And Jumping Lake is further down. I don’t know if it’s in the pipeline route, but there’s two grizzly bear denning sites that we know of.
No one from Gateway has contacted our families about the impacts that’s going to happen to the land. They never asked us where we picked berries or anything or the plants that we use for medicine.
Great Beaver Lake is also a major moose calving area. The whole lake is sort of swampy and perfect for moose calving area.
In the summer, we get pelicans and sand hill cranes, and in the winter we get trumpeter swans that they stay in Beaver Creek because Beaver Creek doesn’t freeze. And in the summer, they go to Adenokah (ph). And the Adenokah (ph) Creek, there’s three beaver dams that’s been in that creek since I’ve always remembered those creeks being there. And those creeks are still there.
I was born in Trembleur Lake, but I was adopted by my Auntie Cecilia and her husband, Pierre Sagalon. And they raised me as their own son. That’s how I am the Keyoh Holder.
Pierre passed away when I was only five years old, but I learned about our Keyohs through our uncles, Lazar Pius and Jimmy Seymour. They have a Keyoh across from ours, and I learned all the trails and lakes and the names of our bays and creeks from them.
And sometimes I would go trapping with my cousin, Richard Prince. His Keyoh is right next to mine. And sometimes we would trap with Joey, and his trap line is also next to ours.
And 1967 was the first time I went back out since Pierre passed away that time. And I stayed in school most of the time and the price of fur was very good, so all the Keyoh Holders went out. Some of the Elders, it was the last time they went out. We all went out as one group, which never happened again.
On that trip was Isidore Louis. He was an Elder, and my Uncle Lazar Pius, Jimmy Seymour, Map Julian (ph), most of the Elders have never been back out there since. That’s how much that lake means to our people.
Three years ago, forestry students from UBC came up to our territory and they worked with our family and learned about our trails and what we use for medicine and where we pick berries.
They made us a land use management for our Keyoh.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Sagalon, is that part of the information that’s been filed in a motion requested for admission to leave evidence, is it not?
I am just trying to understand. Are you planning to refer to this document while you speak? Is that your plan?
MR. SAGALON: Yes, our family is going to be using this in — for forestry and we can use it to show medicine and other stuff we use.
THE CHAIRPERSON: So this is just — this is something that as a Keyoh you’re using as a resource base.
Were you — was it your —
MR. SAGALON: Yes.
THE CHAIRPERSON: — intention to leave it behind today or were you just planning to have it there to help you as your speaking?
MR. SAGALON: I think it’s a very useful tool for our Keyoh and we’re still working with forestry and other groups to — just to help protect our land.
THE CHAIRPERSON: And you’re just wanting us to be aware that you have such a document?
MR. SAGALON: Yes.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
MR. SAGALON: Just to let you know that we’re — what we’re doing to our — for our Keyoh.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Roth did you have a comment?
MR. ROTH: (Off mic). Yes. It’s not the one that was filed a couple of days ago.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Sometimes when we simplify we end up making things more complicated. I apologize for this.
— (A short pause/Courte pause)
MR. ROTH: Sorry. It’s not the one that was filed a couple of days ago but it’s a very similar document.
MR. SAGALON: It should be the same.
MR. ROTH: It’s a very similar document to the other Keyoh holder that will be speaking later today and it is very relevant information that will be, I think, of use to the Panel in understanding the oral presentation.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Roth.
Are there comments from any other parties on this document?
MR. SPENCER: (Off mic) on behalf of Canada. We have reviewed the materials that were filed recently that were fairly extensive. We didn’t have a chance to review them carefully but at this point we don’t have an objection to those being used today, so that we can move forward, however, we may at some point.
There was some reference to potential prejudice; we may at some point apply for permission to file further evidence…
THE COURT REPORTER: I’m sorry; we didn’t pick this up at all on the recording.
MR. SPENCER: Okay. Scott Spencer on behalf of Canada.
And I just wanted to address the issue of the additional evidence that is being brought forward today. I think it is all evidence that was presented and filed yesterday with a motion.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Not this one.
MR. SPENCER: This isn’t?
MR. SAGALON: Similar.
MR. SPENCER: Okay. So if you want to deal with that, we’d be prepared to speak to that but otherwise, if this is a new document…
THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you like to speak to this particular document, Mr. Spencer?
MR. SPENCER: No, if Mr. Roth doesn’t have an objection to it and the Panel is prepared to allow the witness to use it for today, that’s fine.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Spencer.
So, Mr. Sagalon, I think that the Panel would be very interested in receiving a copy of this document if you’d be prepared to give it to us. Would that work for you?
MR. SAGALON: I think there’s a disc that we can use.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So we could have an opportunity then to have it on the written evidence and we’ll — so for today we’ll enter it as a visual aid and then that — we’ll look forward to hearing your comments on the document and what it means to your Keyoh.
So, we’ll just finish with the administrative part of that and then we’ll move forward.
MR. SAGALON: Okay.
THE CHAIRPERSON: So, Ms. Niro, could we have a visual aid number?
Let’s just deal with one at a time. Okay, so let’s get a visual aid number for this one.
THE REGULATORY OFFICER: This will be Visual Aid No. 28.
— VISUAL AID NO. 28:
Map submitted by Mr. Larry Sagalon
THE CHAIRPERSON: Terrific. Thank you.
And Mr. Bateman was just pointing out that you have another document in front of you. Were you planning to refer to that at some point?
MR. SAGALON: It’s just the pipeline maps.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, okay, all right. So that’s already on the evidence then.
Okay. So I’m sorry for the interruption. I hope we didn’t break your train of thought. We’re very interested in hearing your comments and I’ll shut off my microphone again.
MR. SAGALON: So I can read from parts of it?
THE CHAIRPERSON: Absolutely.
MR. SAGALON: Okay, it starts out with — it says:
“Obstruct; Larry Sagalon, holder of the Adih K’enla Keyoh, is witnessing many potential compromises to the integrity of his Keyoh located north-east of Fort St. James. Moncton pine beetle, logging operations, increased hunting, jeopardized water quality and a proposed community forest and an oil pipeline highlight the issues currently affecting the Keyoh. The objective of this management plan is to address these issues by developing scenarios that will allow Larry to have greater decision-making authority over his Keyoh.
Our team visited Fort St. James and the Adih K’enla Keyoh to meet with Larry, his family and other Keyoh Holders. Their values and management preferences were identified through conversation and retelling of some of the Sagalon family’s historical narratives. We have since modelled scenarios for the Adih K’enla Keyoh and evaluated those using values and indicators and echo system service evaluation.”
One of the things that amazed the forestry students was how passionate we are about our land and at one part of the book they tried to put a value on the land but they couldn’t -like a monetary value or whatever. I think they just came up with a number like 350 million or something and that’s just for a small 17,000 square hectares.
You could see the green outline is the boundaries. There’s one, two, three — there’s four — five main Keyohs around the lake but you can see there’s other Keyohs connected to it further up north and by the Stewart River. So anything happens on Beaver Lake or Salmon River it affects the whole area.
I grew up on the land so I’ve seen all the changes that come to our people. And we used to go to our Keyoh with a wagon pulled by a team of horses and when the railroad came they just ploughed everything, they went through some grave sites and we never got compensated for that.
And when the Sawmill started in Fort St. James, they stared taking our trees and they told our Elders that you’ll be compensated for it, but we’re still fighting with forestry.
Whenever we fight for our land, I tell the people that’s not only for First Nations; it affects everybody. We all breathe the same air and we all need fresh water.
I am still a member of the North American Fur Auction. I have been a member since — since they started, and we send out our furs to the auction and they sell the furs and they pay us.
But the last five or six years, we haven’t been trapping that much because we are trying to keep the land as — the same as much as possible. But we still take some beaver and moose and other animals for food, and fishing. And Salmon River is a spawning ground for salmon, the Coho salmon. And there’s lots of other — there’s kokanee in the lake and there’s trout.
And I have some material from Julian Steward. It says:
“Two centuries ago, the Carrier were hunters and fishers who lived in some kind of simple Bands and lacked any nobility or potlaching. The research problem was first to ascertain the process of change from hunting Bands to the nobility and potlaches, and second, to understand how the latter broke down into individual families, each with its own trapping territories.”
Our Keyoh was bigger but it was the owner before, Pierre, gave half to a friend of his and the other half they gave to Pierre, this part.
In 1925, the Keyoh Holders of Sabawoon got together to recognize and respect each other’s boundaries and holders of the Keyohs. The boundaries remain the same today. The Keyoh Holders today still use the Indian names of the bays and the creeks.
Since 2004, the Keyoh Holders of Great Beaver Lake have been meeting at least once a month to help each other, support each other. We have students from UBC that come up every year and do management plans for the other Keyoh Holders. And we had a law professor from UBC come up and document how our Keyohs were passed down to us.
In 2010, we had a gathering at Adih K’enla to celebrate the gathering that was held by our grandfathers just to recognize each other’s Keyohs and Keyoh Holders, and that was on the APTN documentary, “Closer to Home”.
So we’re pretty active trying to keep our — protect our land. We don’t just use it for trapping; we use it for other things like collecting berries and gathering our medicine. Sometimes we just go out there to spend time with our families. And I don’t know what will happen if that pipeline goes through. It’ll never be the same.
I think that’s about all I can say for now.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Sagalon. Thank you very much. Thank you for taking the opportunity to speak with us, and we appreciate you making the time to be here.
MR. SAGALON: Oh, and John Dewhirst is doing a report for the genealogy for our Keyoh, like how it was handed down to us. He’s still working on it, and I just got — I just have a little bit of it here.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Sagalon, was that the law professor who you referred to, or is that a different individual?
MR. SAGALON: He’s — no, he’s not from UBC.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Could we get you just to repeat his name for us so that we can
MR. SAGALON: John Dewhirst.
THE CHAIRPERSON: John Dewhirst. Terrific, thank you.
Thank you very much for being here today. Much appreciated.