Mar 11/97: Bruce Clark testifies at Ts'peten trial

S.I.S.I.S. Bulletin


Tuesday, March 11, 1997

Imprisoned Native Rights lawyer Dr. Bruce Clark continued his testimony Monday in Surrey. He was called as an "expert witness" by the Shuswap elder Wolverine (William Jones Ignace) after BC prevented the lawyer from appearing as counsel of choice, jailing him on trumped up charges of contempt of court.

Dr. Clark has an appeal himself today in the BC Court of Appeal; he has already been advised the court will not entertain his jurisdictional points of law.

Dr. Clark began Monday's testimony at the Ts'peten trial by summarizing the source principles of Natural Law: (1) third party adjudication, (2) justice as applied truth, (3) law as applied respect, and (4) liberty as these first three principles functioning. These principles, Clark explained, are anterior and superior to all others in the law's hierarchy: "order, otherwise, is tyranny."

Clark then summarized the positive law sources that are the legislative confirmation of those Natural Law Principles:

(1) 1537 Papal Bull: Natives are human and have original jurisdiction and possession of their lands - [RIGHT]

(2) 1704 Constitutional Court of Queen Anne: In case of contested jurisdiction between indigenous and colonial courts, there must be third party adjudication - [REMEDY]

(3) 1763 Royal Proclamation: Prior to treaty or purchase of Native lands by the Crown, the Crown has no jurisdiction over Natives on those lands. Land grants beyond the treaty frontier are strictly prohibited, and native nations are not to be molested or disturbed in the possession of this unceded territory - [SANCTION]

(4) 1948 UN Genocide Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide [SANCTION]

Dr. Clark then clearly and integrally evidenced the conspiracy to suppress these points of law, respectfully raised by himself and his clients. "Essentially, what you have [in this case] is the rule of law on trial," he said. Clark intends to evidence this further in testimony to come.

Clark was also asked by William Jones Ignace to elaborate on the particularly relevant sections of the 1867 British North America Act:

(1) Section 91 (24): the federal government has jurisdiction over ceded reserve land and the purchase of land process

(2) Section 92 (13,14): the provinces have jurisdiction over non-native land and courts.

(3) Section 109: all lands possessed by the Crown before Confederation (1867) became provincial lands, "SUBJECT TO" the Indian Interest. Clark explained that "subject to" are the most important legislative words in the Aboriginal rights context.

(4) Section 129: federal and provincial governments can amend the constitution except where constitutional law exists in Imperial constitutional law.

The significance of Section 109 Article 10, Clark noted, is that "BC is on the same footing as all other provinces." In other words, contrary to the view held by a BC judge in an infamous 1991 land claims decision, the Royal Proclamation of 1763, as affirmed in the Constitution, does apply to BC. "THESE LAWS HAVE NEVER BEEN REPEALED."

Clark also addressed the various anti-Indian Acts:

(1) 1876: illegal application federal and provincial legislation to unceded, unpurchased Indian territory which was beyond the treaty frontier, and therefore outside Canadian jurisdiction

(2) 1880: criminalization of life chief and original political systems of Native nations, and imposition of the Band Council system.

(3) 1884: criminalization of Potlatch and Tamanawas (Sundance) ceremonies and of Indigenous political organization. Later it was also criminal for Indians to consult with lawyers on issues of land rights and jurisdiction. When Clark mentioned that this was obviously still occurring in BC, Judge Bruce Josephson cautioned him against making such comments.

Dr. Clark finished his testimony Monday by referring to Canada's conscious historical program of assimilation and genocide of the aboriginal peoples. He quoted a statement by Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A MacDonald: "the great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system, and to assimilate the inhabitants..."

Clark will resume his testimony Wednesday, after today's bail appeal. His testimony is expected to last about three more days.


Sample letters and links to politicians' email are on the Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty (S.I.S.I.S.) site, at:
Please send a copy of your letter to S.I.S.I.S.


A good introduction and summary of his jurisdiction argument:


Ts'peten Defence Committee:
Splitting the Sky - Phone/Fax: (604) 543-9661
Bill Lightbown - Phone: (604) 251-4949
Ts'peten Legal Defence Team:
Manuel Azevedo, phone: (604) 687-0231, fax: (604) 687-0241
Margaret Clark, c/o phone: (604) 687-0231, fax: (604) 687-0241
Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty:
PO Box 8673, Victoria, BC Canada V8X 3S2
Email: or

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