Trial, Week 3: Summary - July 24


WEEK 3: JULY 22 - 26, 1996

   * Day 10: Monday, July 22                * Day 13: Thursday, July 25
   * Day 11: Tuesday, July 23               * Day 14: Friday, July 26 
   * Day 12: Wednesday, July 24


Edited by Roz Royce and Trond Halle, from notes by Trond Halle (Defendant)

Posted by FreeMedia

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 1996 - DAY 12

Before calling the next witness to the stand, Judge Josephson told the jury that they wouldn't be needed Friday and that their holidays could begin early. One woman jury member actually looked disappointed with the news, suggesting that although the mainstream media may proclaim the trial boring (they hardly ever show up and only for a couple of hours at a time), the jury and some of the public are enthralled by it.

The 12th Crown witness, Cst. Charlie Andrew was sworn in and Crown Counsel Jennifer Fawcus began the questioning. The native 18-year veteran of the RCMP testified that he had been stationed at Williams Lake for the last 7 months and previous to that, had been stationed in 100 Mile House from 1989 to 1995. His general duties at Gustafsen Lake were to ensure that the non-native campers there were alright and to make sure that no one was bothering the Sundancers nearby. Andrew said that since 1992, he had been asked every year to attend the Sundance ceremonies at Gustafsen Lake. He said James Krueger (a medicine man) invited him to attend in 1992 and Percy Rosette had asked him every year since.

In 1993, he was asked to witness an agreement between Lyle James and Percy Rosette at a meeting in 100 Mile House. Present at the meeting were: Staff Sgt. Lindsay, Percy Rosette, Ernie Archie, Rita Charlie, Mr. Robinson and others. Although he didn't read the agreement at the time, Andrew has since read it and described it generally as being about holding the Sundance at the lake and cleaning up the grounds after the ceremonies. He identified his initials on the agreement next to a number of names, but couldn't remember why he placed them there. While he recalled Ernie Archie, Rita Charlie and Charles Robinson signing, he couldn't remember specifically if Percy Rosette had signed. Oddly, when Andrew was asked to identify Rosette in the courtroom, Andrew said he couldn't see him, even though Percy was only fifteen feet away in plain view. Percy had smudged that morning.

Andrew then recalled the times he went to Gustafsen Lake from July 13 to August 16, 1995.

June 13 - He accompanied Cpl. Hicks to a meeting at an intersection near Gustafsen Lake and met with Lyle James and two trucks full of cowboys who were intent on serving Percy Rosette an eviction notice. Andrew described James as being upset by the tone of his voice and the way he was talking. "He was excited." Following this, the police and James drove along the lake to the newly erected wire fence west of the Sundance grounds and then left. Andrew didn't know where James' group was when they drove back to 100 Mile House.

June 17 (12:55) - Andrew described a meeting held near the Sundance grounds between the Sundancers, members of the James family and the Cariboo Tribal Council. The officer helped put the meeting together by contacting Council members Antoine Archie, Agnes Snow and others, but Archie and Snow were the only ones to show. He said Sundancer representatives included John Hill (Splitting the Sky), Percy Rosette, Mary Pena and Jones (Wolverine) Ignace. When asked to identify Wolverine, Andrew turned around to face the 64-year-old organic farmer. Wolverine waved at Andrew, the two smiled warmly at each other, Andrew pointed out Jones in the red track suit, then testified that he had known "Jonesy" all his life. There were more than a couple of smiles in the jury after witnessing the reunion of these two Shuswap men.

Andrew could not recall what was said during the meeting, but remembered seeing no firearms there. Another oddity occurred when Andrew was asked to identify Mary Pena, but could not see her in the courtroom sitting next to Percy. She too had smudged that morning.

On June 21st, June 30th, July 1st and 2nd, 1995, Andrew visited the camp and usually spoke to Jones or Rosette. He described how he would "crawl through the fence to meet them. People were always very friendly with me." When Fawcus asked Andrew if he ever went beyond the cabin during his visits, he replied no, explaining, "They just didn't invite me to walk past that point." He noted that he did go past the cabin during the Sundance ceremonies to get to the arbour. July 18 - Andrew responded to a report of trees being felled on a road north of Gustafsen Lake, but when he saw they had already been cleared, he proceeded to the camp. He saw about 20 people there and spoke to John (Splitting the Sky) Hill. Hill told Andrew that the camp had heard of a radio news report which stated the RCMP were getting a court order and were going to remove everyone from the Sundance grounds. Apparently an MLA had made a statement that he would seek a court order too. Hill told Andrew that they had cut down the trees to prevent the RCMP from coming down the back road.

Fawcus highlighted Andrew's notebook entry in which Hill stated that if the RCMP enforced an eviction notice, then that would mean war against the people and he was willing to die for the cause. Andrew testified that he told Hill to confirm any news reports with the RCMP first before jumping to conclusions.

July 19 - Andrew and Cst. Wood visited the camp and reported seeing little orange paint spots an inch in diameter on their chests for a second. Then the spots disappeared.

July 20 - Andrew and Cpl. Bigland attended the sight, but were not invited into the camp area. They spoke to Hill and Rosette.

July 22 - At the camp, Andrew thanked Hill for his co- operation with the police on July 20th and insisted that the RCMP were not his enemies. Hill agreed to call the RCMP in the future if any strange incidents happened again.

July 31 - Andrew introduced Staff Sgt. Sarich to Hill and Rosette at the camp.

August 1 - When the camp would not speak to Sarich or Band Council Chief Antoine Archie, Andrew returned later on their behalf. Archie requested another meeting between the Cariboo Tribal Council and the Sundancers. Andrew asked for dates that both parties could agree on.

After an August 2nd uneventful visit, Andrew returned on August 7th and spoke to Rosette and Pena who he hadn't seen all summer. They suggested that August 21 would be a good day to have another meeting. August 18 or 19 were the alternative dates. This was the last face to face meeting Andrew had with the people in the camp.

August 15 - Andrew reported being in the area, but not in the camp.

August 16 - Andrew is ordered to show Cpl. Callander of the 100 Mile House Emergency Response Team (ERT) the area around Gustafsen Lake. He understood that Cpl. Callander would subsequently be going in with his ERT team.

At this point in the testimony, Jennifer Fawcus introduced a videotape the Crown wanted to show. When asked by Azevedo who made the tape, Lance Bernard explained that John Hill had given the video to the RCMP when they questioned him in Alberta during the standoff. Although the Crown expected objections to the tape, all the Defense counsel and accused agreed that the tape should be shown. They knew it was "Defenders of the Land", a film made in the summer of 1995 which detailed the spiritual, legal and political positions of the Sundancers. The jury would finally hear the voices of the Defenders. It was a high coup to show this film to the jury so early in the trial. Some Defense counsel and all the Defenders wondered if the Crown was actually trying to help them.

The jury watched intently as "Defenders of the Land" was played and stopped often so that Cst. Andrew could identify locations and people in the film, including John Hill, Percy Rosette, Wolverine and Ernie Archie. He also identified himself and Cpl. Bigland in a scene taped July 20, 1995. The video showed the two uniformed officers standing at a fence gate speaking with four natives on the other side of the fence. Andrew identified John Hill and James "OJ" Pitawanakwat as two of the natives there. The shot concluded with the officers and all the natives shaking hands and exchanging smiles.

Following a lunch break that interrupted the video, Wolverine and Andrew chatted warmly with each other as they waited for the judge and jury to return. Shiela Ignace (Wolverine's daughter and co-defendant) also took advantage of the delay by sneaking into an empty sheriff's chair next to her dad and holding his hand - something she hadn't been able to do since his imprisonment in September, 1995. The judge and jury returned and the video was played to completion. The Crown marked the videotape as evidence and that concluded its questioning of Cst. Andrew.

Harry Rankin began his cross-examination by asking Cst. Andrew to continue reading his notebook entry of July 18, 1995 which noted John Hill's contention that an RCMP assault would be seen as an act of war and that he was willing to die for his cause. The Crown had neglected to read the following sentence which stated that Hill and the Sundancers wanted a peaceful resolution and they felt it was time for the provincial and federal governments to sit down and deal with these matters. When asked how he was treated at the camp, Andrew maintained that he was always treated with respect and dignity from everyone there. "I never feared for my safety."

Andrew also stated that he never heard anyone in the camp make threats against the ranchers, the police or the community, nor did he ever see Wolverine do anything aggressive. He believed that, right to the end, there was an invitation from the camp to discuss things peacefully. Despite the order to show ERT member Cpl. Callander around the lake on August 17, 1995, Andrew stated that "things weren't escalating from my point of view". He believed the planned ERT reconnaissance was strictly "defensive" in nature - not aggressive and offensive, as Rankin suggested.

When asked to judge his work as a camp liaison officer, Andrew felt he was fairly successful and believed he could have got the various government representatives to sit down with the Sundancers. Andrew never had the chance though, as he was returned to his regular duties after August 17, 1995. Sheldon Tate emphasized the shift in RCMP policy with a reference to an August 18, 1995 entry in Andrew's notebook which revealed that he had told Antoine Archie that he no longer had control over events at Gustafsen Lake. Andrew testified that he had spent a lot of time before this trying to broker a meeting between the Sundancers and the local Bands and noted that Percy Rosette was always eager to communicate his ideas despite having his tires slashed and his family threatened during previous meetings.

He said that Antoine Archie and Agnes Snow wanted to resolve the situation too by either evicting the Sundancers or buying the disputed property. (Andrew confirmed that he had never seen Snow at the Sundance grounds or knew of her to be affiliated with any Sundance ceremony.)

When asked why elected Chiefs Archie and Snow had been contacted, Andrew clarified that their Bands (Canim Lake and Canoe Creek, respectively) along with the Soda Creek and Alkali Lake Bands made up the Cariboo Tribal Council - a Council which had land claims all around the Williams Lake area including Gustafsen Lake. Andrew agreed with Tate that the reserves, made up of Shuswap people, had been parcelled out to separate areas in the past.

Recalling the events of June 17, 1995, Andrew remembered meeting with some of the James family and Agnes Snow on the east end of Gustafsen Lake and informing them that the Sundance would likely take place that year regardless of their wishes. "It was too late to move people out", he said. When Helen James, Lyle's daughter, brought up force as an option, Andrew told them that it wasn't a good idea to go in when people were upset. Despite disappointment with the results of the ensuing "circle meeting" later that day, a new meeting was still planned for August 21, 1995. Andrew agreed that the new meeting was not cancelled by the people in the camp, but because of an August 18th incident in which the Detachment was pulled out of the area.

George Wool followed Tate by asking about fellow native officer Cst. George Findley. Andrew testified that Findley had been in contact with David Archie, a local historian living at Dog Creek, and that the two officers shared new information about the history of the area. Andrew asserted that the "continuation report" Findley read to the camp in the video would have been filed and made available to senior officers in the RCMP like Staff Sgt. Sarich who reviewed the files on a daily basis. Andrew admitted that Sarich would also have seen his reports regarding the proposed August 21, 1995 meeting.

Wool then had Andrew clarify his relationship with some of the people in the camp. The officer had known Ernie Archie since 1992 and admitted that he still visited him despite the fact that he was charged with weapon offenses in 1995 in the Williams Lake area. Regarding a notebook entry that stated John Hill told the officer jokes during his many visits, Andrew recalled telling him jokes too. "He didn't respect the uniform I was wearing, but he did respect that I was a Shuswap person." When Wool suggested that they also joked about the coffee being the best in the world, Andrew smiled and said "Yea, the water was good."

Andrew testified that a meeting with ERT member Cpl. Callander on August 17, 1995 signalled a change in RCMP policy to him. When Andrew drove Callander to the lake to show him approaches to the camp, the ERT member told him his team would be doing a reconnaissance of the camp too. Although Callander wore civilian clothes during the drive, Andrew knew ERT members usually wore dark clothing, blackened their faces and carried assault rifles during operations.

Andrew testified that this concerned him because if the team were detected, a confrontation could result. Andrew admitted he was surprised to learn Callander was an ERT member when Cst. Tassell first introduced him August 17, but he quickly realized it meant a change of policy "by management."

"I assumed I was no longer in the picture." He testified that the order to send in the ERT squad came directly from "E" Division in Vancouver, which is the top command for the RCMP in B.C. The Deputy Commissioner at the time was Dennis Farrell.

Wool then asked Andrew about the Native Community Policing Program. The officer explained that it provided an alternative dispute resolution process which was more akin to the traditional native justice system. He explained that in native culture, all people are allowed to speak, unlike the foreign system imposed on them.

When asked whether the RCMP understood the native ways of conflict resolution, Andrew replied, "No. Most people don't." He admitted to being upset with the policy change because he was never consulted. He had a plan on how to get the parties together and how to resolve the problems, but no one wanted to talk to him about it. When asked if he was just worried about the people in the camp, he replied, "I was concerned about everyone's safety."

The day after Andrew showed Cpl. Callander the area, he heard over the radio that ERT member Cst. Wilby had reported being shot at while sneaking around the camp. Andrew testified that he and Cst. Wood wanted to return to the camp to re-establish communications, but when he radioed in his intentions, Cpl. Hicks ordered him to stay away. He returned to the Detachment and never returned to the camp. No one ever questioned him about the work he had done, nor asked him for any advice. A week later, Staff Sgt. Sarich told Andrew why he was pulled from his duties, but Andrew didn't share the reason with the courtroom.

When asked to describe his relationship with Staff Sgt. Sarich, Andrew answered that they got along in speaking terms and rank structure, but didn't elaborate further. When pressed, Andrew admitted that Sarich's style contrasted sharply to his predecessor, Staff Sgt. Lindsay.

George Wool, a former RCMP police officer himself, likened Lindsay to an "old time officer" - the type of officer that when stationed in a native community, would immerse themselves completely by "living with the natives, suffering with them, and occasionally playing cards with them."

Andrew agreed with Wool's sensitive description of Lindsay citing his more conservative approach to the natives. When Lyle James complained to Lindsay about the Sundance, Lindsay requested a Land Title certificate to determine who really owned the land. Andrew testified Lindsay wanted more proof of title before going into the camp in a police capacity.

Andrew revealed more of the RCMP's inner workings when he agreed with Wool that officers are regularly rotated to new posts every five years and that when a new person comes to a small town, officers will often test old complaints on the new transfer. Andrew testified that Staff Sgt. Sarich had just been transferred to 100 Mile House on January 4, 1995 when he had received Lyle James' latest complaints. Andrew confirmed that Sarich had come from a plainclothes section as opposed to community policing and observed that Sarich's attitude was more stricter than Lindsay's, not just with other officers, but with the community too. Andrew assumed Sarich would take enforcement action much faster that Lindsay would.

Don Campbell wrapped up the day's cross-examination by asking about Andrew's notebook entry of a 1993 meeting which says "post the signs". Andrew explained he was to place signs in the 100 Mile House community to let them know about the Sundance at the lake. "The Sundance is a sacred ceremony and shouldn't be interrupted by non-native people", Andrew stated. He added that Staff Sgt. Lindsay was at that meeting too. Campbell noted that a sign near the Sundance grounds prohibited alcohol, drugs, cameras or cassettes and suggested that this was more indicative of a lifestyle than just a ceremony. Andrew agreed. When asked if the Sundance should be encouraged because of the values it espouses, the officer nodded his head, "Yes." He finally noted that security was good at the camp and provided by the Sundancers themselves.

   * Day 10: Monday, July 22                * Day 13: Thursday, July 25
   * Day 11: Tuesday, July 23               * Day 14: Friday, July 26 
   * Day 12: Wednesday, July 24