Newly elected Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine has publicly declared his support for a public inquiry into the Gustafsen Lake affair.
In addition, more than 140 chiefs at the AFN's leadership convention also called for an inquiry into "excessive force and attempted murder against the Indian people" at Gustafsen Lake.
It is believed that a number of chiefs from the BC interior were able to act as "king-makers" and push Fontaine to victory over rivals Ovide Mercredi and Wendy Grant. The interior chiefs, in turn, were being pushed by their own grass-roots to oppose the termination and extinguishment agenda of the BC Treaty Commission, as well as to support a growing call for an inquiry into both the Gustafsen and Ipperwash affairs.
Mr. Fontaine's victory, according to today's Province newspaper, came "after leadership rival Wendy Grant-John of Vancouver conceded defeat at about 1:45 a.m., [and Fontaine] called for an inquiry into the Gustafsen Lake affair."
Today's Province editorial also endorsed the inquiry call: "There needs to be a public review of the 1995 Gustafsen Lake standoff."
However, the Province went on to condemn "the display of spitting, swearing and name-calling -- toward the defendants' own legal team" which it called "atrocious", saying "it casts doubt whether backers of the standoff have learned anything." Defense counsel Harry Rankin QC and Sheldon Tate were surrounded outside the courthouse after Wednesday's sentencing by a large crowd of Ts'peten supporters and those who had followed the trial, shouting repeatedly "YOU SOLD OUT!"
Both Tate and Rankin had viciously and publicly attacked the sovereignty and jurisdictional position of the Defenders during the latter stage of the trial, and apparently persuaded a number of Defenders to adopt this position in the belief they would "get off". It is widely believed that the sabotage of the original legal position, and the collaboration of the defence team in this agenda was choreographed by the notoriously corrupt bench and bar of BC, which is caught in a massive conflict of interest on the jurisdiction question.
The AFN convention also accepted a draft resolution moved by Chief Stewart Philip of the Penticton Indian Band and seconded by Chief Ron Jules of the Adams Lake Band, which reads as follows:
Draft Resolution #19/97The continuing silence of the domestic Canadian human rights and civil liberties establishment in the face of an outpouring of support from grassroots people and the international community is indicative of the "politicization" of this establishment. BC's Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh is simultaneously the Minister of Human Rights. Repeated petitions to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and other agencies have gone unanswered, legitimizing claims by the Ts'peten Defenders that international intervention and adjudication is necessary in the absence of domestic remedies.
Subject: Call for Inquiry into Canadian Government and Police Actions
WHEREAS in both the Gustafsen Lake and Ipperwash incidents, the actions of government and police officials in using excessive force against First Nations citizens is unacceptable; and
WHEREAS governments are attempting to prevent the public from learning the truth about these incidents; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Chiefs-in-Assembly support the demand for a full and comprehensive public inquiry into all aspects of the Gustafsen Lake and Ipperwash matters; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Assembly of First Nations will take full responsibility for establishing a mechanism to ensure that a public inquiry takes place into the actions of the provincial and federal governments at Gustafsen Lake, BC. and Ipperwash, Ont.
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BC Premier Glen Clark
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Premier Michael Harris
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Canadian Human Rights Commission
Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty (S.I.S.I.S.)
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