An occupation of the Westbank First Nation Administration offices by the Native Youth Movement in support of Okanagan youth ended Tuesday afternoon at approximately 4:00 PM, when authorities moved in to arrest the approximately 30 NYM members. According to Kootenay elder Bill Lightbown, speaking by phone from Vancouver, the legal processes for enforcement of a court order evicting NYM had already been put in place before the occupation began. Sources say that Miles Richardson, former commissioner of the BC Treaty Commission, former President of the Haida Nation and a principal with the Native Investment and Trade Association, was apparently involved in negotiations to remove the demonstrators.
It is not clear at this time exactly how many of the occupiers are still being held by the authorities in Kelowna, BC, but Lightbown told S.I.S.I.S. that he believes that there is a BC Supreme Court hearing of the matter this afternoon.
According to an earlier NYM release, "We young people fully understand that the BC Treaty process was designed to dispossess us youth of our aboriginal title to our lands and our inherent rights to the resources contained within our territories. The Chief and Council of the so called Westbank First Nation have no right to negotiate away our aboriginal title and rights... All Native Youth have an undeniable right to fight to protect their aboriginal rights from being sold-out by any and all corrupt Native leaders who, in return for money, shamelessly collaborate with all levels of government!! We will not stop until we see an end to the "sell-out" BC Treaty Process."
More information on today's Kelowna court appearances will follow when available.
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