Jun 21/97: Crown demands stiff sentence for Wolverine


Prosecutor says Jones Ignace should serve 16 to 23 years for his role in the armed standoff

The Vancouver Sun, p. A19
Saturday, June 21, 1997
Kim Pemberton

[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.]

Jones Ignace should get the stiffest sentence of all the 15 people convicted in connection with the standoff because of his leadership role, a BC Supreme Court judge was told Friday. Crown prosecutor Lance Bernard recommended a term of 15 to 20 years for mischief causing actual danger to life during the lengthy standoff with hundreds of RCMP officers at rancher Lyle James' Gustafsen Lake property near 100 Mile House in the summer of 1995.

The prosecutor also called for sentences of seven to 10 years for discharging a firearm, to be served concurrently; three to five years concurrent for assaulting a police officer and one to three years consecutive for possession of weapons. He said the three people also charged with mischief causing actual danger to life and possession of weapons, James Pitawanakwat, Suniva Bronson and Ed Dick, should be sentenced to five to 10 years.

Bernard recommended the remaining 11 people, all found guilty of mischief to property, be sentenced to a federal prison terms of between two and five years. The prosecutor called for the sentences after Judge Josephson rejected an earlier request by two defence lawyers that some of those convicted be permitted to take part in a traditional native Indian circle sentencing, in which members of the community decide what punishment is appropriate. The judge said he will provide written reasons at a later date.

In proposing the sentences, Bernard cited aggravating factors he said warranted the jail terms. "The offenders named themselves the 'Defenders of the Land' and recorded events as they unfolded," he said. "The offenders established an armed encampment, which included the acquisition of a large cache of weapons, including prohibited firearms, ammunition and camouflage clothing. "The offenders had lengthy periods of time to reflect upon their acts; they were anything but impulsive. They actively resisted ongoing efforts by the police to end the standoff."

Bernard said the motive of the offenders was to further the cause of native sovereignty. However their method was "extortionary and violent," he said. But defence lawyer Don Campbell said it isn't fair to attribute acts of violence to the 11 people found guilty of mischief, saying they were on the scene to protect the sanctity of native Sundance ceremonies that had been performed on James property for years. "Their motive is clearly one that was worthy," Campbell said. Ignace, who is representing himself, told the court the native Indians involved in the standoff did nothing wrong. He said the courts have no right to judge him because they have no jurisdiction over land natives never ceded to white settlers.

"Who is the biggest lawbreaker-- the Crown or the native people?" he asked. Pitawanakwat, who is also representing himself, told Judge Josephson the proper sentence would be an absolute discharge. "Are you going to make stiff sentences to please your political masters?" he asked. "You're going to keep me locked up and try to break my spirit because I was trying to protect these native people...to keep me a political prisoner." Pointing to Ignace, Pitawanakwat said he is an organic farmer who is speaking the truth about native sovereignty. The hearing continues July 10.

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