The Occupation of the Vancouver Offices of the BC Treaty Commission by approximately 30 members of the Native Youth Movement continues. An expected 4:30 PM forced eviction which NYM members have promised to resist, passed with police still holding back from an invasion. It is hoped that a continuing blitz of email, faxes, and phone calls from supporters to government officials, police and the Treaty Commission will continue to prevent any possibility of an attempt to forcibly evict NYM. PLEASE CONTINUE TO SPREAD THE WORD AND EMAIL THOSE IN AUTHORITY.
NYM has occupied the BCTC premises at 1155 West Pender St since April 17. Any eviction would have to be authorized by the BC Treaty Commission. Chief Commissioner Alec Robertson, a former director of timber multinational Daishowa and a former senior partner of mega law firm Davis & Co. asked the NYM to leave. They have decided to remain. A CBC Radio program ALMANAC interviewing NYM's Dave Dennis, was broadcast earlier on the province-wide network. An edited version follows.
NYM: "We're in opposition to the BC Treaty Commission. We occupied this office to let people know there is oppostion to this process coming from the Indian community."
CBC: The First Nations Summit has stated there shall be no surrender of Aboriginal Title. What worries you about what they're doing?
NYM: What worries me is that - number 1 - they're borrowing a lot of money - borrowing a lot of money on our behalf. It might well be my grand children that will have to pay off the debt they're incurring. They've borrowed over $80 million throughout these negotiations. That's my money that my children will have to pay back. What worries me about this process is that its an extinguishment process. I know that a lot of our leaders will get up and say that they will not accept extinguishment but I know for a fact that these leaders will compromise that right.
CBC: What tells you that?
NYM: What tells me that is looking at the history and politics of some of these people and just the fact they would enter a process without consulting their whole nation. We're talking little tiny Indian Act Bands that are negotiating with a province and calling it a "treaty". There's a problem right there. Just the fact they would do that - enter a process without the full consultation of their people would lead me to believe they're willing to compromise other things.
CBC: There are 30 of you there. Who do you represent?
NYM: I represent myself. I represent my children and my great grand-children. We, as Indigenous people, have a commitment to our future. And we see that these processes will have a real bad effect on our future generations...so therefore I say that I speak for my great grandchildren.
CBC: The reason I ask is that a month ago there was a meeting in Prince George. Prince George hosted 800 native youth across the province - and I understand your group was there asking them to support you, but that 90% said no.
NYM: I think that's totally incorrect. In fact, I recall two or three hundred people showing up at our workshops who got right behind us. I think what got confused is that there were a number of people at that conference that didn't want us to be heard. So they used these tactics - these tools of oppression against us: like using our elders to turn on us without them even knowing us. We have to understand that at that conference there were 3-400 people that came outside and there was a circle the size of the whole Civic-center.
CBC: Why not get involved in the existing process to convey your concerns?
NYM: Well, I think if we got into this process it would defeat our position. Our position is that this is Indian Land - this is Indigenous land. According to Delgamuukw we have Aboriginal Title to this land as Nations. Certainly for us to voice our opinion through that forum would tell everyone that we're in agreement with this process.
CBC: This process has been going on for over 100 years. Are you worried that what you're doing could be damaging that somehow?
NYM: I would certainly hope so. I think that's our intention with the Native Youth Movement - to stop this process.
CBC: What's the alternative to this process?
NYM: I know the Six Nations (Interior Six Nations Alliance) have been starting on an alternative process based on Nationhood and based on Consent, portability of rights - that would speak to the issues we're talking about.
CBC: What's it going to take for you to end your occupation there?
NYM: I guess from what I've heard they're coming in at 4:30 and they're going to carry us out with police.
CBC: Are you going to go willingly?
NYM: Oh no. No, no. We're here to stay and that's our bottom line. We explained that to the Commisssioners too.
CBC: OK. Thank you.