The Okanagan Indian Band tmxʷúlaʔxʷ | Lands Department is responsible for developing and implementing reserve land management policies and practices.
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Sherry Louis, Interim Lands Director – A member of the Okanagan Indian Band. Employed with the Okanagan Indian Band Organization since 1998 as the Chief and Council’s Executive Assistant and transitioning to the Lands Department in 2015. As Interim Director of Lands, Sherry is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations as well as support the strategic planning for OKIB Reserve Lands. In addition, Sherry currently supports the Additions to Reserve, Specific Claims and Unexploded Ordnances processes.
Michelle Knuhtsen, Administrative Assistant – Michelle started as the Administrative Assistant for the OKIB Lands department in June of 2023 and is responsible for providing secretarial, clerical and administrative services for the department. Michelle has her Administrative Assistant Certificate from Okanagan College and 10 years of experience in various fields.
Brittany Caron, Lands Officer – A member of the Okanagan Indian Band. Brittany started as the OKIB Lands Administrative Assistant in July of 2015 and recently completed the Professional Lands Management Certification Program through the National Aboriginal Lands Manager Association to become a certified Lands Manager for the OKIB Lands department. Brittany is also a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits. Her role includes administering land and natural resource transactions and working with the Lands Supervisor on lands matters such as surveys and utility projects for on reserve lands.
Randy Marchand, Lands Supervisor – A member of the Okanagan Indian Band. Randy has been employed with OKIB since May 27, 1991, and has held the Lands Supervisor position since 1995.
His position oversees the INAC Reserve Land and Environment Management Program for OKIB Reserve lands to ensure the registration of land transactions on the six Reserves of the Okanagan Indian Band. This includes Locatee transactions, Locatee lease proposals, Locatee survey projects, OKIB Council Designation process, OKIB Leases, Addition to Reserve process, OKIB Permits, and includes providing information to OKIB legal counsel on the OKIB Specific Claims.
Randy’s position works with other OKIB departments on various matters, these departments are: Territorial Stewardship Division; OKIB mapping Tech; Public Works and Housing; Finance. And other OKIB departments on specific land matters, e.g. legal descriptions; ownership.
Don Louis, Unexploded Ordnances Liaison - Currently UXO Liaison for the OKIB, Don has been working full time with OKIB since 2012. Don is a certified UXO Tech 1. Prior to returning home to the Okanagan territory, Don resided in Calgary AB working in the Oil and Gas industry in the technology sector. He was also involved in Real Estate buying and renovating houses.
Caleb Sellers, Lands Records Officer – Caleb is a full-time term employee and has been with OKIB since November of 2021. As the Lands Records Officer, Caleb is responsible for assisting in the development and implementation the Lands document and information management system.
Organizational Chart – Lands and UXO
The Okanagan Indian Band Lands Department is responsible for developing and implementing reserve land management policies and practices. OKIB is participating in the Department of Indigenous Services’ Reserve Land and Environmental Management program (RLEMP).
RLEMP is a land and environment management program that seeks to establish the conditions under which First Nations are able to exercise increased responsibility over their reserve land, resources and environment by undertaking Indian Act land management activities on behalf of the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
To facilitate lands transactions and other Band functions the Lands officer has been appointed as a “Commissioner for Taking Affidavits” pursuant to the British Columbia Evidence Act.
The Okanagan Indian Band reserve lands are as follows:
On average, the lands department works with the Department of Indigenous Affairs Canada (DISC) to register documents related to OKIB reserve lands, in the neighbourhood of 330 instruments per year being an average of 1.3 per day. The due diligence related to registering instruments in the Indian Land Registry can be labour intensive and depending on the complexity can take time to complete.
Leasing & Permitting
The Lands Department is responsible to maintain, record and provide advice on the registration requirements for locatee leasing and registered leases and permits within Okanagan Indian reserve lands.
There are currently two registered leases on OKIB band land:
- Round Lake Treatment Centre; and
- SRI Homes
OKIB Lands Survey process can be found at Land Survey Process Of OKIB Lands.
Additions to Reserve (ATR)
As part of the Boundary Specific Claim settlement, OKIB and Canada have been working on the additions to reserve related to the Beau Park fee-simple properties. To date the following efforts in relation to this ATR have been completed:
- Environmental Site Assessment
- Re-survey of the lands
- Consultation obligations with other First Nations, local governments and the Province of BC
Duck Lake CN Rail
In 1877, the Joint Indian Reserve Commission allotted Duck Lake Indian Reserve No. 7 (the “Reserve”) to OKIB. In contrast with the Commonage Reserve, which was also allotted by the JIRC, the Duck Lake Reserve was later confirmed by the McKenna McBride Commission and by Order in Council 10361 in 1938. In about 1912, the provincial legislature passed a law authorizing Canadian Northern Pacific Railway Company (“CNPR”) to build a railway between Vernon and Kelowna known as the Kelowna Line. In the same year, the federal government passed an order in council authorizing the sale of a right-of-way of 17.56 acres through the Reserve to CNPR (the “Duck Lake Rail Corridor Lands”). In 1926, the federal government transferred the Duck Lake Rail Corridor Lands to CNPR by letters patent.
In about 1956, CNPR was amalgamated with CN Rail. In 2013, CN Rail discontinued its use of the Kelowna Line. In 2014, CN Rail sold the right of way lands for the Kelowna Line except for the Duck Lake Rail Corridor Lands to the City of Kelowna. Under the terms of the sale, CN Rail was required to remove the railway infrastructure from the lands. The City of Kelowna and other local jurisdictions formed an Interjurisdictional Development Team (the “IDT”) to oversee the creation of a recreational trail along the former Kelowna Line rail corridor. With respect to the Duck Lake Rail Corridor Lands, CN Rail has indicated that it is prepared to return the lands to Canada in order that they can be restored to the Reserve.
Efforts to finalize the ATR continue.
There is work underway related to the development of an environmental management framework.
There are several Environmental Site Assessments that have been conducted over the years. The shelf-life of an ESA is approximately 5 years.
Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)
Between 1943 and 1990, the Department of National Defence (DND) conducted military training activity that included live-firing of explosive ordnance (such as artillery and mortars) on two ranges located partly within Okanagan Indian Reserve No. 1, the Goose Lake Range and the Glenemma Range.
The permits issued by OKIB authorizing DND to use the reserve. Currently, an unknown quantity of UXO and munitions scrap remains on the reserve.
UXO poses a serious risk because it can explode if disturbed, resulting in injury or death. In certain circumstances, UXO and munitions scrap may also cause environmental contamination.
DND has made and continues to make some efforts to clear UXO from the reserve; to that end, there is a memorandum of understanding which provides funding to support the UXO Liaison, Don Louis, to work with DND and OKIB on the survey and clearance work on Goose Lake and Glenemma Ranges.
As part of the on-going work with DND, funding is received for a Liaison Officer. The duties of the Liaison Office include:
- Ensure lines of communications are open between OKIB’s and DND Project Manager;
- Communicate the DND’s project requirements to the OKIB’s authorities;
- Assist with coordinating visits, meetings and presentations between the OKIB and DND and the Department of Construction Canada (DCC)
- Ensure that the Contractor is aware of the OKIB’s operations or activities that may impact the work of either party;
- Provide all notices to, and coordinate access with, potentially affected OKIB members prior to commencement of site work;
- Conduct visits during site work by DND’s Contractors to review their progress;
- Meet with DND\DCC staff and accompany these individuals during visits to the OKIB.
- Report any concerns or issues to the OKIB and the DND Project Manager;
- Maintain regular communication with DND.
- Participate in the dangers of UXO awareness program, which included the OKIB School, School district 22, OKIB community events, and neighboring community events.
To date, 11 Band members have also been sponsored by DND to take the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s UXO Technician I course thereby building capacity in this arena in the community.