The Native Youth Movement's five-day occupation of the BC Treaty Commission office ended last night when Vancouver police arrested 14 protesters. Police were acting on the enforcement order of an injunction requiring the NYM to vacate the building. Insp. Espo Kajander said no damage had been done to the second-floor office at 1155 W. Pender St. and described the forcible removal of the protesters as "a very co-operative operation" in which police permitted a ceremonial blessing involving sweet-grass.
Four of the 14 protesters are juveniles and were taken to a youth detention centre. The rest, seven men and three women were taken to jail and will appear today in BC Supreme Court for contempt of a court order. "Once I explained to them what occurs after the order is read, they were very co-operative," said Kajander. "There was one lady, Rose [Caldwell], that co-operated with us and accompanied each one of the arrested people down and blessed them as they left." About 20 protesters already had left the office willingly after hearing the enforcement order. The 14 arrested protesters chanted slogans as they were taken to a police bus for transport to jail: "BC is Indian land" aand "We are young but we're not stupid."
"This occupation has definitely created a forum for the growing opposition to the BC treaty process, especially among native youth, who are going to be demanding answers," said NYM spokesman David Dennis. "Aboriginal youth are in the majority now and our numbers are growing. We don't want to pay the huge bills our leaders are running up to negotiate treaties we don't want on our land." The BCTC said it will be "business as usual" today. "There's a lot of First Nations that are pretty unhappy our office has been closed."