"I can only believe that they're going to step up their operation...I would suggest that the solution to this is going to be an armed one."
BCTV News on RCMP Operation
"The allegations of police and government wrong-doings are so serious that there is no question there should be a public inquiry into whether or not the rule of law was respected."
- Canadian Forum: April '97
Two years ago the governments of British Columbia and Canada were mounting the largest paramilitary operation in Canadian history against a small group of Indigenous and non-native resisters occupying sacred, unceded Sundance grounds at Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake). A massive cover-up has thus far kept the truth from public view. After a corrupt and bizarre kangaroo court process during which they were denied their counsel of choice, an acknowledged expert in international and constitutional law, Defenders are being held as political prisoners. World-wide, supporters have called for their release and a full public inquiry with international supervision. In the interest of furthering this inquiry call - we look back.
"They're gonna put out...like news to their employees [Forestry] to discuss which employees were in there and...what happened...and it would hit the media... you know? ...if any type of that information gets out there people... in other words if they become available to the media they may say things there that we wouldn't want out."
Unidentified Man : "...Yeah, you know they're gonna start commenting on our people, our equipment, what they're seeing, what they heard... because... Jesus!"
- RCMP Chief Media Liaison Peter Montague to Unidentified Man re: alleged shooting previous day, involving RCMP Emergency Response Team and Forestry Workers. [Source: RCMP archival videotape Tape A3]
August 28th, 1995, 0718 hrs; "...there was a vehicle checked in Mission with a number of people with war paint, they had camping gear in the vehicle and said they were coming from a Powwow in Langley... Speculation is that they were heading north to join the natives at the encampment. Mercredi ['Grand Chief' Assembly of First Nations] has agreed to work with our members to establish a phone line to go to the camp. Mike Webster [Psy Ops consultant at Waco and at the MRTA crisis in Lima] is going to talk to Mercredi. Phone line will stay under our control at all times".
"Apparently we were having trouble with the military. We are working on our operational plan, Lt. Col. Crober is unhappy about the way we are planning to use the APC's [Armoured Personnel Carriers]. Chief Supt. Johnston, advised him that the CO [Commanding Officer] is in control of the equipment and not the military people."
"August 28th, 1995, 0741 hrs; "A meeting with the CO, Chief Johnston and myself. Olfert - tell Mercredi to quit making derogatory comments about us in the press as it is not doing any of us any good. The CO wants all the Highway Patrols across the Divisions and the OPP [Ontario Provincial Police] to be contacted and advised to be on the look out for Mohawks travelling from Montreal. He requested that we need to establish another UC [Under Cover] team to follow up on this investigation after the fact."
"August 28th, 1995, 0825 hrs; "I called Stephen Owen, the Deputy AG [Attorney General BC] and updated him on events..."
August 28th, 1995, 0910 hrs; "...the CO is getting advice to use local elders to talk to them."
August 28th, 1995, 1110 hrs; I called the OC Victoria and passed on the request of the DAG [Deputy Attorney General Stephen Owen]. He will call the Chief of Victoria PD [Police Department] and have them respond. As it is their jurisdiction. He expects that they will respond as they do not like us going into their area and taking over."
August 28th, 1995, 1120 hrs; " I spoke to Supt. Casey and asked him to initiate a second UC through Headquarters Ottawa, for follow up after this incident is concluded."
August 28th, 1995, 1215 hrs; "Stephen Owen called and I briefed him on the Victoria PD actions."
August 28th, 1995: "Short briefing with OC Len Olfert & Insp. Earl Moulton. Visit local Armory and view Bison - 8 wheeled APC. These vehicles can withstand 7.62 cal bullet with no problems. Can continue to operate with tires shot out."
"1 1/2 hour meeting with Prince George and North Vancouver ERT... Team felt they were sent into a situation with no prior planning and no intelligence. The Det Comm. [Detachment Commander] & Sec. NCO [Section Non Commissioned Officer] did not show any leadership as too busy with other things. The GD [General Duty] members at roadblock had the attitude that the operation was just like a picnic - brought coolers, etc."
"the 4 ERT [Emergency Response Team] felt they were placed in a position in which they have never been trained for and were not psychologically prepared for - let alone no plan to deal with what happened...I advised military unlikely to want to take this type of incident."
"On return from Kamloops I met with the CO, Brown, and Guy [RCMP Brass]. We discussed and agreed that Insp. Edwards would attend 100 Mile and take over the ERT side of the operation. I advised that Moulton did not believe we had the training or ability to deal with this situation...I do not believe the Military is willing to take the situation on because of the problems we have had with them in getting equipment. I believe the shooting incident has temporarily shocked and demoralized our members. I believe it will be several days before the members regain their confidence & determination."
"I suggest Len may wish to consult the Cariboo Tribal Council for their input..I review fax late at night. I do not believe Milton Born With a Tooth should participate - traditional native peoples seem to support violent defence of their land, so I have trouble with this."
August 28th, 1995: "1710 - Pete #36 Lord Exeter - message back to House of Lords. Ferris [RCMP Major Crimes Unit Intelligence Officer] - Roger Fisher, Harvard Law School wants to help"
"Dick Smith...advised that the media had intercepted 2 calls Mercredi/Wolverine Ryan/Wolverine and were going to report the contents. Smith requested I contact Crown and see if we could stop it. Notes sections 9 (2) and 10 of the Radio Communications Act.
"I have a lot of questions about what is going on here. - Mercredi had pleaded with the RCMP not to move in closer as people in the camp were 'frightened out of their wits and some were angry as well... Our assessment was that violence would occur if the police advanced on the camp. Violence has occurred.'"
"The invasion plan being advanced by the RCMP is enabled by white public opinion"
"Mercredi and the Shuswap Chiefs [Dept. of Indian Affairs Band Council Chiefs] met with hostility in the camp and were berated for three hours. The Sundancers were furious on Saturday because the radio phone was jammed. The media had been excluded not, as the RCMP claim, at Mercredi's request but by them... The police had given him 48 hours to mediate a peaceful resolution but began to implement their 'multi faceted operational plan' which Montague says should not be interrupted."
"Camp: mostly tents, tarps, some structures. Lots of water @lake, cattle in area for food. Hard to see "waiting out" as option... High ground to east of main encampment... Sundance Circle is NE of main camp. Max. 25 people in camp, 4 - 5 hardcore. "Wolverine" the main subject. WESCAM/ [high altitude camera] FLIR [Forward looking Infra red detector] being utilized - 2 helicopters."
"Ops Plan to secure camp , open areas - no personnel to enter bush - Bison#4 to go into bush if necessary. Supt. Olfert to command operation from radio truck on 1000 Road/ ERT Commander in helicopter."
"Assault in early AM - only if clear weather for WESCAM and two FLIR's. Planned for 0700hrs."
"Claim to have no alcohol, drugs in camp. Blvd. no children... EHS helicopter & EMT's on standby, as air ambulance, enter area only when cleared."
"Chief Mercredi was successful in opening the lines of communication with
the occupants of the camp. The RCMP will not discuss the nature or the
mechanics of the talks. The Force is optimistic that the talks will
BC Media Liaison Officer Peter Montague - telephone conversation. TV news
shows Kenneth Deer - Eastern Door being interviewed.
TV broadcast (On Oka): "That was the start of the escalation. When you threaten
to remove somebody physically that's the starting point. That's where
escalation starts from, so the Mohawks armed themselves and then you
PM interrupting TV - "Advocating violence. That's an Indian from Montreal. And as soon as you get these comments going back in there...you know if we start to center on that Eastern market specifically, its going to cause in our estimation a heck of a problem. Particularly if something gets said that is a misinterpretation, and they are jumping over everything we say."
"We call on you to stop any kind of armed attack and to attempt to
resolve these issues in a peaceful manner. You should be aware that your
response will have repercussions across Canada and North America."
"This can be settled in a non violent manner, not the usual propaganda
war, with the Attorney General of BC calling thes native people a group
of terrorists to inflame the public against them. Do you have no shame,
calling the aboriginal people "rebels" and "squatters" on their own
land? But now the aboriginal people and their supporters throughout the
land are watching you."
"Dear Minister, ... I do not support the violence that people behind the
blockade are using...your new Deputy Minister, Stephen Owen, is one of
the most capable persons in government in terms of mediation, process and
consultation...I think his expertise should be used now to bring a
peaceful resolution to this issue...cc Stephen Owen
To sign the petition demanding an inquiry by email, send a message to SISIS@envirolink.org with "petition" in the subject header and "I support the petition for a full public inquiry into the events surrounding the Gustafsen Lake crisis," your name, and your city of residence in the body of the message.
For more information, contact Splitting the Sky - Phone/Fax: (604) 543-9661 Bill Lightbown - Phone: (604) 251-4949