Aug 30/95: Gustafsen Lake-Standoff result of years of neglect


Violence in the Interior is the result of years of neglect, former Tsartlip chief Tom Sampson says

Victoria Times-Colonist
Wednesday, August 30, 1995, Page A8
Times-Colonist staff

[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.]

Armed natives in a standoff with police at Gustafsen Lake are speaking "the only language the government knows" to kick-start negotiations, says the chief of the Tseycum Band.

Vern Jacks said Indian bands have been warning Ottawa for years that violence would erupt if the government continued to stall on settling native demands.

Abour 30 rebels are holed up on private property at Gustafsen Lake, near 100 Mile House, on land they say was never ceded by treaty from Indian control. Two RCMP officers were hit by rebel gunfire earlier this week, saved only by bullet-proof vests.

"Indian negotiations have been a time bomb. We've been warning for years that something would break out. I hope the government realizes that now," Jacks said Tuesday.

"I feel for those people up there. I disagree with the guns, but we said years back that maybe the guns were going to come out. Now they have, and who's fault is it?"

Former Tsartlip chief Tom Sampson wants Premier Harcourt and Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh to calm the explosive situation at Gustafsen Lake.

The provincial government has a responsibility to help negotiate a peaceful end to the standoff, said Sampson.

"A shootout and death could spark a massive outcry among aboriginal people across Canada," Sampson said in an interview.

Deaths or arrests of natives will only heighten the mistrust that has been building.

"There's a growing feeling among native Indians that they will neve have justice in this country," Sampson said.

The violence in the Interior is the result of years of neglect, he said.

"It's what happens to people who have had reserves created for them. It is the result of being sent to residential schools, of having to survive on welfare cheques, and being forced to become Anglicans or Roman Catholics against their will."

People are becoming more and more frustrated with the whole treaty process and feel the issue of aboriginal title will never be settled.

"There's a growing suspicion that the aim is to totally extinguish our treaty rights," he said. "There's no respect today for our treaties. We're still being taken to court on hunting and fishing issues despite the Douglas Treaty."

Sampson was shocked at responses from callers on a local radio phone-in talk show on Monday.

One caller suggested dropping the bomb and "wiping out all these Indian people."

That kind of contempt is frightening, said Sampson.

"I thought those days were long over."

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