Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 1998 8:20
From: [name withheld]
Subject: Victimization of Native Youth Movement
Thank you for responding to the e-mail I sent you in mid-April. In that letter, I urged you to make sure that the occupation by the Native Youth Movement of the BC Treaty Commission Office not be broken up by the police. As you know, the police did eventually break up that protest.
Your reassurance that the government of British Columbia was committed to the treaty process is not at all reassuring to me. I stand, with many BC aboriginals, against the treaty process. I view the process as an attempt by the government to solidify its control, and the control of the federal government, over areas of BC which are legally sovereign (by Canadian and international law). This is taking place at a time when the courts are refusing to consider arguments that the Canadian legal system has no jurisdiction over unceded and unconquered aboriginal lands. In view of this fact, I believe it is inappropriate for the government to move ahead with the treaty process.
It is also the case that the treaty process is strongly opposed by many, if not most, aboriginals, and that it is certainly not the case that the general population of British Columbia is strongly supportive, or even well-informed, about the treaty process. The treaties are being worked out between government experts, on one side, and non-representative tribal councils, on the other. Which brings me to the main purpose of this letter.
Since the occupation of the BCTC office and the Westbank (Okanagan) Band Council office, the Westbank Band Council has decided to evict all of the demonstrators from the property of Rose Caldwell, member of Westbank Band and a protester herself. The Council has also decided to criminally charge the demonstrators, many of whom are Okanagan by descent, under section 30 of the Indian Act - a section which was intended, at the time of writing, to apply to nonnative squatters encroaching on tribal lands. It appears unlikely that a court will hear an argument to convict a group of Okanagans and their friends based on section 30, particularly in view of the dismissal, in court, of a similar argument during the Gustafsen Lake crisis.
I therefore urge you to ensure that police do not take part in this questionable attempt at eviction and criminalization.
I don't agree and I'm sorry you feel as you do about our treaty process. There is, in fact, strong participation in the BC treaty process by First Nations. Right now, 42 First Nations, representing about 2/3 of aboriginal people in the province, are involved. 34 have reached the substantive stage of the process and are negotiating agreements-in-principle with the governments of BC and Canada.
I appreciate your concern with regard to the Westbank Band Council's actions; however, disputes and matters related to Indian reserves fall under federal responsibility and are properly the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada. You may want to consider addressing your concerns to your Member of Parliament or the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable Jane Stewart. Her address is: House of Commons; Room 583, Confederation Bldg.; Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6.
We encourage First Nation leaders to discuss treaty-related issues with aboriginal youth and directly discuss with the Native Youth Movement their concerns about the treaty process. First Nations leaders, for example, the Nuu-chah-nulth, have suggested youth should bring their concerns forward by participating in the treaty process and not though sit-ins and protests. The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has also been working with First Nation organizations to address the needs and aspirations of urban aboriginal people, including aboriginal youth, who have been encouraged to participate in this process.
Provincial negotiators are trying to get the best deal for all British Columbians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal. As representatives of the province, they're committed to developing better relationships with First Nations, relationships based on mutual trust and respect. The treaty process is the cornerstone of this relationship.
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 1998 14:20
From: [name withheld]
Subject: stop Westbrook reserve eviction
Dear Premier Glen Clark,
I am writing in urgent concern for the human rights of the people threatened with eviction from the Westbrook reserve despite a local host's support for the supposed trespassers. Please stop this eviction and re-consider the Treaty Commission process which led to this conflict.
I cannot put into words how deeply ashamed I am that this land is still mired in colonialism, the deadly practice of which constitutes genocide. Please act in good conscience and honour Indigenous sovereignty.
I appreciate your concerns; however, the provincial government has no involvement in the dispute involving the evictions. As you may be aware, disputes and matters related to Indian reserves fall under federal responsibility and are properly the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada.You may want to consider addressing your concerns regarding this issue to your Member of Parliament or the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable Jane Stewart. Her address is: House of Commons; Room 583, Confederation Bldg.; Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6.The provincial government is involved in the tripartite treaty process, which will lead to negotiated settlements and new opportunities for aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities in BC. The courts have consistently told us issues involving First Nations' interests are best resolved through negotiations. The province encourages First Nation leaders to discuss issues related to the treaty process with aboriginal youth.I hope the federal offices will be able to address your concerns about the evictions.
Westbank Band Council
Phone (250) 769-4999
Fax (250) 769-4377
Kelowna RCMP detachment
Phone (250) 762-3300
Please cc letters to S.I.S.I.S., at SISIS@envirolink.org