April 24, 1997
Rob Flemming is a mild-mannered man. It was his daughter, Sirena, who said, when she and her mother were leaving the Gustafsen Lake camp because they were frightened, that her daddy stayed behind because they were his friends, " .. and he didn't want them to die."
Mr. Flemming stood before the jury this morning with his hands in front of him, the right in the left, as though he was facing his own ultimate day of judgement, which he was.
He said, "I never intended to cause harm to anyone." He told the jury that he had only planned to stay a day or two, but he was concerned for the people there. "Over half the camp were women and teenagers," he said. "I'm glad no-one was hurt."
Expressing some nervousness, he said, "I never was very good at talking in front of a group of people."
Mr. Flemming went on to say that he did not expect such a buildup of forces and danger to the people. He chastised the police for acting "irresponsibly" and said that had the situation continued, "no-one would be in court today."
"There are legitimate outstanding issues that need to be addressed responsibly. The solution does not lie just with the authorities, but with everyone who cares about these things. Bloody conflict is not a good thing."
Concluding his short address, Mr. Flemming said, "Thank you for all the time you took out of your lives to be here.
Shelagh Franklin opened her address to the jury by thanking the jury members for being so "open and patient. You have had your eyes open, your ears open and your mouths shut."
"This is the first time in Canadian history," she continued, "That issues of (native indian) jurisdiction have been before the people.
"Why did this happen," she asked. "Canada is a free country in the world ... #1 in human rights," and yet, " We were surrounded, terrorised, starved, shot at ... why can something like this happen?"
"Is it a crime to defend yourself from institutionalised violence? Is it a crime to say this is unceded land? Is it a crime to defend our children? Is it a crime to be courageous?"
"I am not going to stop ... I am concerned for the future."
"Who is going to address these laws? Where do we go for justice? There is no peace when children are starving."
Ms. Franklin told the jury, "I have faith in each one of you and that you understand your role here. You are the closest to a third party tribunal that the public has ever had in this country. The public has been so effectively lied to ... what will they think? I hope that these issues will not be buried ... that people continue to press for a better world."
She concluded, "People need to know what happened and why it happened."
Final statements to the jury will continue tomorrow morning at 10am.
(Copyright Tim Wees ... you may pass this on unedited)