Apr 30/97: Defence submissions continue (mainstream)


The Province
Wednesday, April 30, 1997
Holly Horwood - Staff Reporter

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. It may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]

The militant native leader of the Gustafsen Lake standoff used the courts yesterday to urge a renewed struggle for native rights. Onlookers in the heavily secured BC Supreme Court room broke into cheers as Jones William (Wolverine) Ignace suggested that if he's convicted, more natives will take up his cause.

"If you find me guilty, you'll be imposing a life sentence on me," the 65 year-old former logger told jurors in Surrey. "Why (would you convict)? I'm standing on the law. If you impose a life sentence on me, then let my life be the seeds of liberty of red people."

Ignace, who is defending himself, faces several charges, including attempted murder of RCMP officers in the 1995 month-long armed siege on disputed land. He has repeatedly reminded the court of the 1763 Royal Proclamation and the 1867 constitution, which protect aboriginal rights in Canada - and which, Ignace maintains, are ignored.

"I don't mind when people say there should be one law for all people - they're talking about the Creator's law. But if they're talking about one law for an unjust society, then it won't work," he said. An articulate ex-alcoholic who was once charged, and acquitted, of manslaughter, Ignace represents the extremist wing of the 18 accused in the mass trial.

Ignace urged jurors either to acquit all the accused, refuse to return a verdict, or send the land-claims issue to a third-party tribunal. "This is what it (the case) all boils down to - the land issue," said Ignace, who has been in custody since the trial started last summer. "It's still unceded territory, according to law." Crown counsel is expected to make submissions today. Justice Bruce Josephson is then expected to address jurors before final deliberations begin.

Side bar - THE CASE

ACCUSED - Fourteen native Indians and four non-native supporters. The charges range from mischief and weapons offences to attempted murder of police officers by Jones (Wolverine) Ignace and his mentally disabled son Joseph.

STANDOFF - At Gustafsen Lake on remote south Cariboo ranchland. The month long siege in the summer of 1995 was punctuated by shooting incidents but ended peacefully on September 17.

ISSUES - Natives who had permission since 1989 from rancher Lyle James to conduct a Sundance spiritual ceremony on the land lingered on. Issues of land entitlement escalated as RCMP called in military weapons and denounced camp supporters as terrorists.

[Letters to The Province: provedpg@pacpress.southam.ca]


Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 10:46:56
From: Bill Hipwell whipwell@ccs.carleton.ca
To: provedpg@pacpress.southam.ca
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

In following your coverage of the Gustafsen Lake trial, I have been repeatedly disturbed by characterizations which I feel step outside the bounds of journalistic objectivity. In the most recent example Holly Horwood (April 30, 1997) describes defendant Jones William Ignace as an "ex-alcoholic" and "militant", "once charged and aquitted of manslaughter", who "represents the extremist wing..."

According to democratic standards of justice, what relevance does a past acquittal (which means "not guilty"), or past substance abuse have to the present trial? And what makes Ignace a militant or extremist? Is it his articulation of First Nations sovereignty? The evidence at the trial appears to make the terms "extremist" and "militant" much more directly applicable to the RCMP, who engaged in what they themselves described as a "smear campaign" against the Sundancers. It would appear their smear campaign found at least one convert, in the person of Holly Horwood.

How disappointing.


Bill Hipwell,
Department of Geography
Carleton University

c.c. Settlers in Support of Indigenous Sovereignty
Canadian Human Rights Commission
Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Native Peoples

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