Jul 12/97: Ts'peten Defenders speak to sentencing

S.I.S.I.S. Bulletin


July 12, 1997

On Friday, July 12, Regina v Pena et al continued with sentencing submissions being made to BC Supreme Court Justice Bruce Josephson in Surrey. Ts'peten Defender OJ Pitawanakwat, an Odawa/Anishnabe being held in custody, along with Shuswap elder Wolverine, concluded his presentation. Mr. Pitawanakwat is self-represented as is Mr. Ignace (Wolverine) and non-native supporter Shelagh Franklin, having been denied their counsel of choice, Native rights lawyer Bruce Clark. They are facing up to 10, 25, and 5 years respectively for their defence of unceded Shuswap Sundance and burial grounds at Gustafsen Lake in the summer of 1995. "The ancestors that sleep at Ts'peten, that rest in that area, the spirit of the land works in ways that neither you or I can explain. When we rekindle our old ways our societies are reinvigorated," Pitawanakwat told Josephson. "We were protecting a way of life untainted by urban existence. Our elders are the keepers of knowledge. We, as youth have to defend and protect these ways. All the APCs (armoured personnel carriers) guns and weapons will not protect you from the Creator's laws."

"Our people have suffered more than anyone should suffer. Our ways were brutally attacked. Our laws said we were doing right. Under extreme aggression and oppression we can and must protect our people. When the 'guardians of the rule of law' are oppressive we are guaranteed the right to defend our elders, our children and our way of life. The reconstruction of our warrior societies threatens those in authority but is necessary."

"The police in the APCs had hatches-up in restricted zones near our encampment and were firing everything they had. You heard testimony how an officer was ordered to eliminate Wolverine. We were all nearly murdered for protecting our people and our culture. We only did our duty. This is what I believe. You, sitting up there and judging us may believe different."

Pitawanakwat ended by informing the judge he intended to discuss certain wampum at a future date.

Defendant and new mother Shelagh Franklin read into the record a number of support letters from individuals, organizations and indigenous nations world wide. Franklin paid tribute to "those who shared their truth with me,"including LiL'Wat traditionalist Harold Pascal.

Judge Josephson interrupted her several times. "The opinions of those who share your views do not assist me with sentencing." Franklin returned: "We are asking you to look at the constitutional law. You refused to do that. I'm still of the belief that the Shuswap are the inherent owners of their land. The assumption of jurisdiction over their land is fraud, constitutionally treasonous and genocidal. I have yet to see arguments which disprove my contention that judges too are subject to law. Wolverine and OJ are in prison because of what they believe in, not because of what they have done. They speak the truth."

When Josephson again asked Franklin when she would finish she replied, "I'm not yet prepared to speak to my sentencing right now. I would like to read more to you about the violations of human rights and due process." A date of July 21 was set, "at which time I'll give support letters from people around the world who commended us for intervening in a genocidal situation."


Free the Wolverine Campaign
   Splitting the Sky - Phone/Fax (604) 543-9661
   Bill Lightbown - (604) 251-4949
Box 13-2147 Commercial Dr.
Vancouver, "BC"  V5N 4B3  "Canada"
Letters of support can be emailed to sisis@envirolink.org, or faxed to 604-251-1986, marked attn: Bill Lightbown.

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