The termination and extinguishment policies of BC's NDP government continue to provoke protest and resistance.
On Friday, April 18, thirty members of the Native Youth Movement occupied the BC Treaty Commission Office (BCTC) in Vancouver. The Commission, which oversees a bogus "treaty" process, is headed by Alec Robertson, once senior partner of Davis and co, one of BC's powerful corporate law firms, and director of logging giant Daishowa Canada, infamous for their violations of Lubicon territory.
Although their occupation of the BC Treaty Commission office in Vancouver is over, the concerns of the Native Youth Movement remain. Some of these are articulated in their Press Release of April 17, 1997:
The Native Youth Movement, as well as native youth from many other nations, are here in opposition to the BCTC treaty process in this time of political, spiritual, economical and environmental uncertainty.
Our current leaders are undermining their fiduciary duties and responsibilities to the future generations of native peoples. We have not been informed as to the debts, drawbacks and rights we lose due to the atrocious political structure now in place, that undermined our rights as native people. This is a fraudulent process that will not hold any international status. This process allows individual Indian Act bands to promote themselves as nations which is not congruent with true nationhood.
These government selected Indian act chiefs and councils are making backroom decisions that will effect all of our peoples. There has been zero to tokenistic input by youth, the ones who will have to live with these "treaties".
We the native youth believe in the following;
(1) Our nations are indivisible.Therefore the Native Youth Movement will not support any treaty that comes out of the BCTC process. We will continue direct action until the following demands are met:
(2) We have to be fully consulted on all major decisions.
(3) That our peoples are absolutely sovereign.
(4) We represent a majority of our population (57% 25 and under)
- An unbiased coherent independent review to all current treaty process issues pertinent to all native youth in their territories.We can be contacted at cell phone # 805-8452 Dave
- We demand a budget breakdown of the allocations of funds where chief and council of BC are concerned.
- We demand to speak with the chief negotiators at our discretion.
- All native youth have equal representation on all processes concerning native affairs.
All My Relations
The occupation of the BC Treaty Commission Office in downtown Vancouver is over, but the increasing disgust with the corporate-driven surrender process headed by the BCTC's Chief Commissioner Alec Robertson and the First Nations Summit is just beginning.
The BCTC is rapidly losing what support it had. Recently, the chief of the Sechelt Band, one of the most moderate in BC, threatened to leave the BCTC process, calling government negotiators "patronizing" and "arrogant". DIA Band Chief Gary Feschuk said "We are on a long and expensive road to almost certain rejection and failure. So, for the protection of my people, I am calling a halt."
Meanwhile, a "framework agreement" has been signed between the Westbank First Nation and the governments of Canada and BC, the first with an Okanagan Band. Ronald Irwin, outgoing federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, said "I take great pleasure in seeing this framework agreement completed."
However Westbank activist Tom Lindley says those negotiating such deals are ignoring the grassroots that elect them. "They can abandon and sell their rights all they want, but they do not have the inherent or delegated authority to get rid of my rights or my grandchildren's rights," Lindley told Windspeaker magazine (March' 97).
Lindley is not alone in his opposition to the fraud and land theft being orchestrated by the colonizer governments and their "special champions" in the First Nations Summit, BC's pre-eminent collaborationist organization. The kind of "self-government" that is being negotiated, and the reason for alarm on the part of traditionalists and grassroots people, may be understood a little better by noting the following advertisement of the First Nations Summit. This is what they do, when they're not helping the authorities to demonize their own people, as they did in the summer of 1995. Summit leaders like Wendy Grant and Joe Mathias referred to the Ts'peten Defenders as "extremists". At a meeting of the First Nations Summit held shortly after the month long 1995 Ts'peten siege ended, Summit member Nathan Mathews of the Shuswap Tribal Council, told the Vancouver Sun: "the legacy of Gustafsen Lake is increasing questions about the legitimacy of elected Chiefs."
The following appeared in Khatou's April edition:
On May 1st, you are invited to join senior leaders from BC business and First Nations for the next Business at the Summit meeting in Vancouver.
Business at the Summit is helping to create an atmosphere where business and First Nations can work together and grow together.
Register Today For Business At The Summit
(604) 689-9822 Fax:(604) 689-5434
Business at the Summit has been made possible by the sponsorship of the following: Alcan, BC Bearing Engineers Limited, Canadian National, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Credit Union Central of British Columbia, Deloitte and Touche, First Nations Summit, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Lignum Limited, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Pacific Northern Gas Ltd., Placer Dome Canada Limited, Weldwood of Canada Ltd.
However, the First Nations Summit's defence and furtherance of corporate colonialism, and its rewards of directorships in BC Hydro (George Watts) and BC Rail (Ed John), have not diverted others from the goal of genuine decolonization and sovereignty.
The reaction of the Okanagan nation to the framework agreement signed by the Westbank was:
(1) That the Okanagan Traditional Territory is indivisable. No single community, such as Westbank First Nation, has the right to negotiate a portion of Okanagan Territory;A Press statement issued by the Penticton Indian Band on January 28, 1996 is also informative of the state of indigenous issues in BC:
(2) Further that, the Westbank First Nation requires the consent of the remaining six (6) Okanagan Nation communities, as follows: * Okanagan Indian Band * Penticton Indian Band * Osoyoos Indian Band * * Upper Similkameen Indian Band * Lower Similkameen Indian Band * Upper Nicola Band. Under no circumstances will the Penticton Indian Band allow this fraudulent process to continue.
"The Penticton Indian Band rejects Minister of Indian Affairs, Ron Irwin's statement that the Native unrest of 1995 and any potential future Native unrest shall be linked to the lack of progress of the BC Treaty Commission. We find Irwin's statement to be totally ludicrous and completely without foundation.The TSILHQOT'IN National Government has also expressed its opposition to the fraudulent BC Treaty Process. In a release dated January 30, 1997, they stated:
"The Adam's Lake Band, the Upper Nicola Band, the Penticton Indian Band and the people who were involved in the Gustafsen Lake standoff are unanimous in their opposition to the BC Treaty Commission process. Further, it should be noted that approximately 80 Native communities throughout the Province do not support the BC Treaty process. Any suggestion that these communities would become engaged in a "Native Uprising" in the event that the BC Treaty Commission doesn't "fast track" the settlement process is totally ridiculous.
"If Minister Irwin's recent statement reflects his comprehension of these critical matters, he should be immediately terminated!!"
"Approximately 80 native communities throughout the Province of BC do not support and are not participating in the BC Treaty Commission process.It should not be surprising then, to find that increasingly the governments of both Canada and BC are seeking to provoke the large interior nations like the Okanagans, Shuswaps, and Tsilhqot'ins into confrontations, in an attempt to destroy this formidable opposition to the grand larceny going on in the Province of BC. One potential trouble spot is the continuing attempts by the Province of BC to seize the rights to the Green Mountain road, which passes through the Penticton Indian Band's reserve. Roadblocks have occurred in the past, and the Province has threatened expropriation. Again some of the correspondence on this issue reveals the dangerous game BC's NDP government is playing.
"Further, in many, many cases, only fragments of Tribal groups are actively participating in the BC Treaty Commission process. Even if these participants were to achieve a settlement agreement, such an agreement would not be recognized, respected or honoured by the balance of those Native communities within that particular Tribal group who chose not to participate in the treaty process.
"Therefore jurisdictional certainty and economic stability CANNOT be achieved within the scope of the current BC Treaty process.
"Finally, we reject minister of Indian Affairs Ron Irwin's recent public statement that Native unrest will result if the BC Treaty Commission process does not proceed in a rapid or expeditious manner. Quite the contrary. We are convinced that Native unrest is more likely to occur if the treaty process is allowed to continue in its present form."
On September 26, 1995, Tsilhqot'in National Government Deputy National Chief Ray Hance wrote to Irwin, reminding him of "the duty of the federal government to protect indigenous communities and nations from policies of the provincial government and to defend our lands from invasion by that government," and urging him to "discharge this duty without delay so the major confrontation being designed by the province is avoided."
Hance enclosed the following letter to BC Premier Glen Clark:
The government and people of the Penticton Indian Band have informed us that it is their view that the provincial government is deliberately provoking a confrontation over the Green Mountain Road so that you can assert your pretended jurisdiction over the road by force. They have asked us for our moral support now and our physical support in the event that you are successful in staging a confrontation.
I am writing now to inform you that our support for the Penticton Indian Band, as for the Okanagan Nation, is and will continue to be both substantial and unconditional. Not only do we have a long history of commitment to mutual support, but these commitments have been renewed recently. We are, then, obliged to support the Okanagan people and their governments: we have no choice in the matter. I can assure you that such support as we are called upon to give will be given with the vigour and determination that are characteristic of the Tsilhqot'in. Nor do I have any doubt that other communities and nations will also rally in support.
The government of the Penticton people wants to negotiate. They have made that clear to you. As negotiation is always preferable to confrontation, we advise you to follow their example.
We want you to understand that Penticton is one of the many communities and nations who object so strongly to the fraudulence of the so-called British Columbia "Treaty" Commission that they refuse to participate in it, preferring to wait until the proper procedure is followed for the making of genuine treaties with the Crown, a long wait though it is proving to be.
In the meantime, Penticton, and most of the rest of us who so object, have no forum for the discussion of our concerns and grievances, no means of resolving those issues that need to be addressed before that proper procedure is in place.
In the absence of any treaty between the Okanagan Nation and the Crown, International, Indigenous and Canadian constitutional law all recognize the traditional territories of the Okanagan as being under the valid jurisdiction and authority only of Okanagan governments. Your government needs to recognize that the Penticton government intends to negotiate from the position that they own the Green Mountain Road, as they own the rest of their traditional territory. Your government would do well to accept the legitimacy of their position and prepare to make interim arrangements with them that will be confirmed by treaty with the Crown in right of Canada.
No purpose will be served by your government attempting to deny the truth of the history of this province. The interests of all concerned can only be served by accepting honestly the simple fact that the governments of BC have, ever since the retirement of Governor James Douglas in 1864, attempted to steal all the lands and natural resources of the nations indigenous to this part of the world, including our roads, and have attempted to gloss over that massive theft by promoting the propaganda of the big lie. Such theft can never be concealed for ever. Indeed, the secret has already been exposed and knowledge of the shameful history of BC is already being disseminated (but with public servants and media types still woefully ill-informed).
We recommend to you very strongly that you, personally, read, learn and understand the unhappy history of the province. We recommend to you very strongly that you require your ministers and your caucus to do the same. We recommend that you collectively do your best to educate the other members of the legislative assembly in these matters and that your government require all school districts to provide instruction in such a way that the general population of the province has its deliberately cultivated ignorance of their own history reversed. We recommend that you consult with the indigenous nations every step of the way, so that you get the story right. The Tsilhqot'in National Government is willing to assist the province in such an endeavor and to provide further information to you in explanation of what has been said in this letter.
Your wisest course of action is to listen to what the indigenous government at Penticton is saying to you and to respond appropriately by establishing formal government-to-government relations with them and systematically addressing all the issues of concern to them. I repeat that, like the people of Penticton, the Tsilhqot'in National Government urges you to negotiate, not to confront. But I must also warn you that if you choose to ignore that advice and to provoke confrontation, you will achieve confrontation on a scale that will shock you.
Finally, I want to let you know that we are writing to the federal government and to opposition Members of Parliament to alert them to the seriousness of the situation that has developed and to urge on them the wisdom of negotiation.
Deputy National Chief
cc: Minister of Aboriginal Affairs; Minister of Transportation and Highways; Minister of Forests; Minister of Environment, Lands, and Parks; Minister of Tourism, Small Business, and Culture; and Others Interested
If the governments continue to provoke and incite confrontation, if murderous adventures like Gustafsen Lake continue to be orchestrated for political purposes, the attention and intervention of people of good will from around the world will be required.
No matter what the verdict of the Gustafsen Lake jury, and despite the seamlessly perfected system of colonization known as BC and Canada, the indigenous peoples will continue to be the sovereign. Increasingly, their resistance to corporate colonialism in defence of their rights to sovereignty and self determination is finding allies and supporters among the growing underclass within the settler regime itself, who perceive a common enemy, reject the colonialist genocide, and are determined to replace racist oppression with honour:
Free the Wolverine Campaign
Splitting the Sky - Phone/Fax: (604) 543-9661
Bill Lightbown - Phone: (604) 251-4949
Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Phone: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900
Faxing by email: remote-printer.Jean_Chretien@16139416900.iddd.tpc.int
WWW comments: http://pm.gc.ca/prime_minister/contact_pm/index.html-ssii
Canada's Indian Affairs Minister Ron Irwin
Fax: (819) 953-4941
Faxing by email: remote-printer.Ron_Irwin@18199534941.iddd.tpc.in
Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
taking submissions on the BC Treaty Commission