An Okanagan First Nation wants the federal government to buy up a defunct rail line between Kelowna and Vernon and make it part of their land reserve once again.

CN Rail is selling the land south of Vernon once used by the now defunct Kelowna Pacific Railway.

The rail line runs through an larger 10,000 hectare area called the Commonage Reserve, which the Indian Band says is rightfully theirs. Now that the railway right of way is up for sale, they want the federal government to buy it and to return it to them.

Chief Byron Louis says in 1877 the federal government designated it reserve land, then took it back illegally, and his people have been waiting for more than 100 years for the government to honour their land claim.              

"As far as we're concerned, that is reserve land," says Louis.

"I think we have a case because the case law has already been established in a lot of different areas," said Louis.

"It's been a part of common practice that a right of way, once it's actually no longer in use for that specific purpose, reverts back to the reserve."

The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative also has an interest in the land.

That group wants the rail line turned into a recreational pathway, but says it supports the band's claim and hopes it will see value in a pathway if the band acquires the land.


With files from Brady Strachan