Prohibition of motorized vehicles at Brilliant Flats only a start at reconciliation for so-called 'extinct' Sinixt

Castlegar Source
By Castlegar Source
March 17th, 2021

In a press release issued last week, representatives of the Sinixt People applauded the province’s motorized vehicle prohibition at Brilliant Flats, but said it’s the tip of a very large genocidal iceberg still plauguing the area and its People. The release reads as follows:

March 12’s FLNROD issued prohibition of motorized recreational use in theSinixt heritage site of kpiƛ̓ls (Brilliant) is welcome but long, long overdue,” noted Marilyn James, Matriarch of the Autonomous Sinixt. “As an ancient village and burial area, it is important to the Sinixt, but its significance extends beyond that.”

“The wound connected to this particular site – all the work that Alex Christian put in to have it made into a Sinixt reserve that fell on deaf ears and then the murder of his sister Mary-Ann Christian there – is still very deep and raw,” explained James.  “For us, the kpiƛ̓ls story is a contemporary sore that speaks directly to our being driven off our təmxʷúlaʔxʷ (traditional territory) and being declared extinct in Canada.” 

MP Richard Cannings has been delivering petitions requestingthe reversal of the Sinixt extinction to Parliament on behalf of his constituents.

Kpiƛ̓ls has already been the site of some reconciliation work between the Sinixt and the Doukhobors.  The two communities came together to discuss their history – which involved the Doukhobors pushing the Christian family off the land – and placed a memorial stone to the
Christian family there in 2007.

“However, laying a reconciliation stone at kpiƛ̓ls (Brilliant) clearly hasn’t led to reconciliation with the Sinixt,” noted Autonomous Sinixt staff anthropologist Lori Barkley. “Ultimately, there can be no reconciliation without truth.  And the truth is not only that the Sinixt exist, but that the extinction order was an act of genocide.”

“Though stopping motorized recreational destruction of our heritage site is a step in the right direction, it’s a tiny step in the face of the heinous wrong of the extinction declaration,” said James.

The UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has no provisionfor governments to decide which Indigneous Peoples are to be recognizedor not.

“It’s time for BC and Canada’s governments to stop trying to erase us. It’s time they stopped handing our lands over to neighbouring Nations through the contemporary land claims process,” summarized James. “The Sinixt have always lived here and we are here to stay.”

Previous Coverage from Province of B.C.: 

The B.C. government is prohibiting motorized recreation use and motorized access, including the use of off-road vehicles, on the kp’itl’els/Brilliant Flats area as of March 12, 2021.

These restrictions will help prevent environmental damage and ensure environmental protection concerns are addressed. The restrictions took effect at noon (Pacific time) on Friday, March 12, 2021, and will remain in place until further notice.

Although motorized vehicle access will be prohibited in this area, people may still use the site for non-motorized activities. The main vehicle access point for the site will be blocked to all vehicle traffic.

These restrictions have been implemented by the ministry under Section 58 of the Forest and Range Practices Act, in partnership with the BC Conservation Officer Service, the RCMP and the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

There have been growing concerns in recent years about unauthorized mudbogging (i.e., operating or racing off-road vehicles in wet earth or mud) on Crown land at kp’itl’els/Brilliant Flats and its associated impacts on the land and the environment.

Specific stewardship concerns due to mudbogging and related activities include:

  • water and soil contamination;
  • damage to forest and rangeland habitat;
  • public safety;
  • impacts on archeological and cultural resources;
  • damage to recreational infrastructure;
  • displacement of wildlife; and
  • lack of sanitation and garbage facilities.

The restrictions will be enforced by the Province’s natural resource officers, conservation officers and the RCMP, who will conduct regular patrols and educate the public at access points into the area. People who do not comply with the restrictions may be issued a violation ticket and be told to leave the area.

The restrictions for the kp’itl’els/Brilliant Flats area align with the partnership goals of the B.C. government and the Regional District of Central Kootenay to work together to engage with the public and First Nations, and to undertake a long-term planning process for the protection, stewardship and management of the site.

Quick Facts:

  • The B.C. government has been working collaboratively with the Regional District of Central Kootenay to develop a strategy for long-term planning for the site.
  • Mudbogging is not considered a legitimate activity and is neither supported nor included in Recreation Sites and Trails BC management policies.

Learn More:


A map of where the kp’itl’els/Brilliant Flats land reserve restrictions apply is available on the Recreation Sites and Trails BC website: www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca


Categories: General