Aug 26/95: Gustafsen Lake-Defenders, Mercredi clash


The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, August 26, 1995, Page A1
Sherryl Yeager, with Canadian Press

[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.]

WILLIAMS LAKE -- National native Indian leader Ovide Mercredi refused Friday to sign a document authorizing the lawyer representing armed native rebels to argue on behalf of all Canada's aboriginal people.

The rebels made the demand of Mercredi when he entered their camp accompanied by several Shuswap chiefs in an attempt to end their illegal occupation of private ranch land at Gustafsen Lake.

"If I sign this, what happens to the weapons you have -- will they be given away, disposed of?" Mercredi asked rebel leader william Ignace, who is calling himself Wolverine.

"If I sign this will there be any threats of violence, retaliation. If I sign this does that mean you are going to leave this area voluntarily?"

Ignace wouldn't answer the question directly, only repeated his demands for an audience with Gov.-Gen. Romeo LeBlanc, the privy council and ultimately the Queen.

The meeting was held as RCMP officers began blocking roads to the Gustafsen Lake site, which the 30 or so native Indians and their supporters staging the occupation have vowed to defend with their lives.

RCMP have said they will clear the site -- by force if necessary -- if Mercredi has not persuaded them to leave by early today.

Premier Mike Harcourt said Friday he backs the RCMP position.

"They make the expert judgement calls," he said. "They are the ones facing the consequences. It's their officers who are at risk."

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