RV Park Operators Appear in Court
Members of a Squamish Nation family recently forced out of running the Capilano RV Park in British Columbia by the band council say they’ll fight the takeover of what they say is their land, the North Shore News, North Vancouver, British Columbia, reported.
“That land was cleared by my grandfather. It’s our land,” said a man who goes by the ancestral name Klatle-Bhi, outside a British Columbia Supreme courtroom Friday (Feb. 4).
Klatle-Bhi went to court to support his aunt and uncle, Darlene and Frank Baker, who are two of the six Baker family members now locked in a court battle with the band over ownership of the RV park.
“This is a much bigger than a fight over an RV park,” he said. “We’re not going to be forced off our land.”
Darlene and Frank Baker were two of five people who appeared before Justice Barry Davies Friday afternoon following their recent arrest for refusing to comply with a court injunction telling them to leave the property.
Half a dozen sheriffs were on hand Friday as the five sat in front of bulletproof glass in a high-security courtroom to address their charges of contempt of court.
Davies released the Bakers after Frank Baker assured him, “We’re not going to go down there and cause trouble until we get a fair hearing.”
A lawyer for the Squamish Nation said the band wouldn’t be pursuing contempt charges against the other three people, who aren’t among those named in the lawsuit.
But the Baker family indicated they will fight the band over ownership of the trailer park land.
Prior to the amalgamation of several tribes under the Squamish Nation, the land was granted to the Bakers by then-chief Joe Capilano, said Klatle-Bhi under a verbal contract. “Aboriginal law supercedes all their paper law,” he said.
He said the family has operated the RV park for 50 years but refused to sign the last lease with the band because it stipulated the Squamish Nation had the right to force them out in the future. “It was really unfair,” he said.
So far, the issue has yet to be heard in the courts.
The Squamish Indian Band filed the lawsuit in December against the six operators of the park: Darlene Baker, Dennis Baker, Franklin Baker, Wade Baker, Wayne Baker and Pamela Pack.
The band claims the defendants, all members of the Baker family that has operated the RV and manufactured home parks since 1966, have refused to negotiate a new five-year lease for both operations and stopped paying rent in May. The Squamish Nation is seeking about $500,000 in unpaid rent for the property. They also plan to take over operations of the park.
Squamish Chief Gibby Jacob has said the dispute began when the last 10-year lease ran out in 2008, at which point council said they would agree to a final five-year lease. But the Baker family refused to sign it. The band has indicated it intends to eventually develop the land.
About a dozen supporters of the Baker family showed up to court Friday to watch the proceedings.
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