Minaker River park lies on a scenic bend in a river near Mile 200 of the Alaska Highway. The former forestry camp is dotted with aspen and spruce, and is a popular camping destination during the summer months. Deer, moose and elk are known to migrate through the area. It’s also a First Nations burial ground.
The Prophet River First Nation, a Dane-zaa community around an hour south of Fort Nelson, is seeking to add parcels in or around the regional park to its reserve lands, Peace River Regional District (PRRD) officials say.
According to a report presented at the Nov. 24 PRRD board meeting, Prophet River has entered negotiations with the province on adding reserve lands. A land transfer could affect Minaker Park, though regional district staff are still unclear which parcels are being considered.
The regional district has leased the land from the provincial forests ministry through 2022. The burial grounds are located to the north of the park’s main access road, and “extreme caution is used to not disturb the site,” the regional district states in its report.
“This burial ground has cultural importance to First Nations groups and may contribute to the special interest in this property,” the report continues.
“The long‐term plan that the province has discussed with Prophet River FN would be for the province to sell the property to Prophet River FN, who then would transfer it over to the Federal Government to be included as a reserve land.”
The potential transfer raises a number of questions for the region’s parks department.
For one, it’s not clear whether Prophet River is interested in land that would cut off public access, or whether the region might receive additional parkland if Minaker is transferred. The regional district plans to meet with Prophet River some time in the new year. PRRD staff say the current reserve land process is unrelated to Site C land transfers.
Calls to the nation were not returned by press time.