* Part One: Legal and Historical
* Part Two: Gustafsen Lake events
1759 - Great Britain sets up alliance with Native Nations in order to win war with 'New France'.
1763 - After Great Britain's victory, the Native allies demanded that the British remove their forts from Native lands. When Britain refused, Ottawa Chief Pontiac formed a Confederacy which proceeded to burn all the forts to the ground. The Colonies advised the King to accommodate the Indian Nations before any others decided to join with Pontiac so King George III put forth the Royal Proclamation on October 7, 1763. The Royal Proclamation vowed to protect unceded (unsurrendered) Indian territories from encroachment by Crown subjects.
1867 - Proclamation of 1763.
1871 - B.C. joined Confederation without consulting any of the Native Nations. Abiding by the Proclamation, B.C.'s first Governor, James Douglas signed 14 treaties with the Native Nations on the southwest side of Vancouver Island. Joseph Trutch, Lands and Surveyors Commissioner reduced Native territories to a fraction of what was originally agreed to by the Native Nations and the Crown's representative.
1875 - Canadian Parliament passed an order-in-council dated January 23, 1875 whereby Canada acknowledged its constitutional obligation to disallow as unconstitutional all provincial Public Lands Acts that had been enacted (particularly in B.C.) Rather than forcing provinces like B.C. to amend its Lands Acts and to give back any stolen land, the federal government fell in with the fraud of the province of B.C.
1876 - Prime Minister John A. MacDonald and his government passed the Indian Act which was applied to unceded "Indian Hunting Grounds." This was in blatant violation of the 1763 Royal Proclamation and Canada's Canadian Constitution is ratified and recognizes as valid the aboriginal rights stated in the Proclamation of 1763.
1991 - William Jones Ignace (Wolverine) takes the issue of stolen unceded lands to the International Court in The Hague.
1992 - William Jones Ignace (Wolverine) takes the issue of stolen unceded lands to the United Nations.
1993 - William Jones Ignace (Wolverine) takes the issue of stolen unceded lands to the United Nations.
Early 1995: Faith Keeper Percy Rosette built a shelter on the Sundance grounds for the maintenance of the site and for cooking.
Early June: Sundancers reinforced a fence around the Sundance grounds, to keep cattle from defecating on the sacred grounds. They also posted signs to discourage trespassing.
June 13: At approximately noon Lyle James and twelve ranch hands arrived at the Sundance site in an attempt to serve an 'eviction notice' on Faith Keeper Percy Rosette. Rosette was not at the site at the time. James read the eviction notice out loud to the Sundancers at the site, then James and his ranch hands "proceeded to occupy these sacred grounds, and sent several men to film and photograph the land, structures and artifacts. They also filmed and violated the sacred fast of one of our Sundance singers." The ranch hands brought rifles and, according to Splitting the Sky, "they pulled out rifles and threatened to kill them [the Sundancers]. One of them pulled out a bullwhip and said: 'This is a good day to string up some red niggers.' " (Defenders' press release, June 19/95) On the stand Lyle James testified that one of the ranch hands did indeed have a bullwhip but that he was just playing with it. (Wednesday, July 17, 1996) At approx. 3 pm five of Lyle James's employees removed the door from the Sundancers' cookhouse and stole the wood stove inside. At approximately 7 pm Percy Rosette returned, and Lyle James attempted to serve the eviction notice again. Mr. Rosette refused to accept the notice, so one of Mr. James' men stuck it on a sacred staff. (Vancouver Sun, Sept. 12/95) Mr. Lyle James is an American who lives on the Dog Creek Reserve and may be exempt from Canadian taxes. He has grazing rights over 922 hectares - for $1314.00 per year. (Document # 513998 Kamloops - Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks).
June 15: A group appointed themselves as mediators without Mr. Rosette's consent; this group spoke with Lyle James and then informed the Sundancers that the Sundancers should ask to meet with Lyle James. The self-appointed mediators also "informed us that threats were voiced, specifically in regard to having us physically removed by 17 June 1995" (Defenders' press release, June 19/95).
June 16: At approximately 6 pm a drunk ranch hand came into the Sundance grounds, "yelling and whooping in a drunken stupor" (Defenders' Press Release, June 19/95). When this man was confronted by Sundancers and asked what he was doing in Shuswap territory, "he stated emphatically that the ranchers intended to burn the council lodge and that the RCMP were planning an invasion of the camp." The Sundancers issued a press release with four demands for a Peaceful resolution to the conflict. These demands were:
1. That an investigation of the Governor General's Office in Ottawa be undertaken to expose the illegal leasing and/or selling of Native lands on unceded territory.June 17: The Dog Creek, Canoe Creek, Canim Lake and Alkali Lake Bands called a meeting about the conflict at the Sundance site. Two Band Council chiefs, seven band members, five people of the James Cattle Company (including Lyle James' daughter, who attended as Lyle James's representative), the RCMP, and Defenders of the Shuswap Nation attended. No resolution was reached. (Defenders Press Release, June 18/95)
2. That an investigation into the DIA [Department of Indian Affairs] and all cohorts in the various band councils be undertaken to expose illegal leasing and/or selling of Native lands, specifically within the Shuswap Nation. The immediate and long term impact of these fraudulent deals on the traditional people must be addressed and acted upon.
3. That an audience with the Queen of England and the Privy Council be convened to renew the treaty obligations of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which states that all unceded territories will remain unmolested and undisturbed.
4. That every individual reading this urgent press release is asked to call the RCMP at (604) 395-2456 and express their concern over the potential for violence against the occupiers of the Sundance grounds in Shuswap territory. We invite all sundancers to come to Gustafson Lake and ensure that this Sundance will be held as planned to sustain our inheritance and religious freedom.
June 19: Counsel Dr. Bruce Clark confirmed that "as a matter of strict law, you are acting within your existing legal rights by resisting the invasion."
June 21: RCMP came to the Sundance grounds and asked permission for Lyle James' employees to chase out cows from the pasture encircling the grounds.
June 24: RCMP Officer Woods, an Oneida, came to the Sundance site to ask if he could be a part of the Sundance ceremonies and to let Sundancers know that the RCMP would "do their best to keep aggravators away from the grounds during the Sundance". (Defenders' Press Release, June 26/95)
June 25: A series of shots were fired by unidentified occupants of a truck which stopped just outside the Sundance camp. Occupants of the camp heard some shots fired into the water; other shots were fired previously approx. 1/2 mile northeast of the site.
June 29: Defenders' counsel Dr. Bruce Clark wrote to Queen Elizabeth II's private secretary to encourage The Right Honorable Sir Robert Fellowes to allow the Queen to see the petition submitted to her on June 5 1995. The petition called for "access to an independent and impartial tribunal" to adjudicate the issue of jurisdiction in lands beyond the treaty frontier.
July 2-5: Sundance purifications were carried out.
July 6-9: The Sundance was held.
July 10-12: The spirit dance was held.
July 19: Defenders of the Shuswap Nation issued a press release informing the public that the Defenders would "continue preparations to resist an invasion by the RCMP....any further attempts to forcibly invade the Defenders' camp will be met with resistant force." (Defenders' Press Release, July 19/95)
July 20: The Cariboo Tribal Council asked the Gustafsen Lake Faith Keepers to attend a meeting called by the Tribal Council to address the situation at Gustafsen Lake. A delegation from the Sundance site attended and reiterated the position that the Sundance site would be defended. The Sundance delegation was then insulted and verbally attacked. No resolution was found. Later that evening, a ranch hand from the Lyle James Cattle Co. trespassed on the Sundance grounds; he accused the people of horse stealing and insulted one of the traditional chiefs in the camp. The ranch hand was told to leave and to keep his horses and cows outside the Sundance site. As the ranch hand left he threatened to return, and immediately afterwards two shots were fired from the bushes towards the camp.
July 26: Two native Fisheries officers encounter six men who say they are from the Gustafsen Lake camp. One of the group allegedly fires a warning shot into the air as the Fisheries officers leave.
August 8: Defenders' counsel Dr. Bruce Clark wrote a letter to RCMP Staff Sgt. M.P. Sarich, laying out: the laws regarding native jurisdiction in lands beyond the treaty frontier (including the Tamanawas/Sundance Site at Gustafsen Lake); legal precedents related to this issue; the history of the Canadian governments' attempts to assimilate native peoples and commit genocide against the traditionalists; the articles of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide, 1948 which gives police the legal ability to refuse to follow orders that will result in genocide; the priority of constitutional over domestic law; the correspondence between Dr. Clark and courts regarding this issue.
August 11: People come and go from the camp believing that negotiations are ongoing. Two Fisheries officers arrested two men - David Pena and Ernie Archie - for allegedly fishing in the Fraser River during a time when no fishing was legally allowed. According to the Defenders, the two men were fishing for their families' winter food supplies. One of the men was agitated when discovered by the Fisheries officers, "causing the officers to pull their guns." (Times-Colonist, August 20. 1995) The Fisheries officers searched the truck the two men were in, and found several weapons. According to the Defenders, "David Pena, a diabetic, was forced to the ground and beaten after the officers found guns in his truck. During the struggle he suffered a seizure and was removed to the Williams Lake Jail by ambulance. Neither of the boys was allowed to phone the camp to tell their worried families of their whereabouts." (Defenders' Press Release, August 21, 1995). Guns are commonly carried in pickup trucks in rural areas by both natives and non natives.
August 12: Local and international support begins to come in for the people in the Defenders' camp. People continue to come and go believing that negotiations are on going and proceeding well.
August 18: RCMP deny that the camouflaged men in the bush are police. (Defenders' Press release, August 21, 1995) In Vancouver, RCMP media relations official Sgt. Peter Montague called major news outlets to "alert them to a major story" (Vancouver Sun, Sept. 12, 1995). According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, April 12, 1996, the military had already been 'unofficially' asked to intervene. From the article: "Despite initially strong reservations from the Canadian Forces' headquarters in Ottawa about lending any help to the RCMP, the military agreed to take an early role and had an operational plan in place a week before the police actually blockaded access roads to the militants' camp on Aug. 26 ('95)...."The military's reluctance to become involved extended even to the way the Bisons were marked. When the vehicles were sent to Gustafsen Lake, the RCMP had to put its own decals on. Another unsigned memo from Land Forces Western Area explained why: "If anything goes wrong, we will not be seen as failing." ...."Nevertheless, the military began assuming a role in the operation within days of being asked for help by Farrell on August 18 (1996.)" [ Dennis Farrell is the RCMP deputy commissioner.] "Despite repeated media inquiries during that time, the RCMP denied the military had become involved and the military issued strict orders to staff to not discuss or acknowledge the operation." ( All quotes from Vancouver Sun, April 12, 1996 The journalist Jeff Lee used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain information about the military presence at the Gustafsen Lake 'standoff')
August 19: RCMP admit that the camouflaged men in the bush seen August 18 were RCMP officers. The RCMP flew media to Williams Lake and held a press conference, where the RCMP's version of events at Gustafsen Lake was presented. The RCMP displayed weapons taken from David Pena's truck, and Lyle James and Cariboo Tribal Council Chief Bill Chelsea were given opportunities to speak to the press. There was no representation from the camp at this press conference. The RCMP warned it was "ready to move in and disperse" the people inside the camp. (Times-Colonist, August 20, 1995).
August 20: BC Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh refused to acknowledge or attempt to address the fundamental issues behind the Defenders' stand at Gustafsen Lake, saying "'Gustafsen Lake has nothing to do with aboriginal land-claims issues. It's purely to do with the weapons found there and the shots that have been fired.'" (Vancouver Sun, Sept. 12, 1995). Dosanjh contradicts himself later, saying that it is a land claims issue but the methods to forward their goals is wrong. (Letter, Nov. 7, 1995). RCMP Superintendent Len Olfert said, "We clearly associate this as an act of terrorism". (Vancouver Sun, Sept. 12) In an article by Dirk Meissner, a staff writer, Lyle James is styled the "owner of the 182,000 hectare spread near Dog Creek" (Times Colonist, Aug. 31, 1995).but in fact he only has grazing rights. However, the James Cattle Company acts as though it owns the land.
August 21: "On Saturday, 18 August 1995, at about 6:00 a.m. , eight camouflaged, fully armed and unidentified men were happened upon by a member of the Sundance camp in the bush outside the fence. Thinking they might be red-neck vigilantes bent upon killing Indians, the Sundancers phoned the RCMP at abut 7:00 a.m. regarding these men. It was also later rumored these men might be a SWAT team from Kamloops. A red, white and blue helicopter flew over camp about 8:25 a.m. and about 9:00 a.m. a shot was heard from down by the Lake. At 10:00 a.m. a man in camouflage was seen up a tree and about 12:00 p.m. another man, similarly dressed, was seen crossing the road from camp. There was also a man in a boat on the lake with binoculars and a walkie- talkie." "Calls to the RCMP on Saturday, from outside allies across the country, elicited denials of any of the above events although by Sunday they admitted that was their men in the area, there had been a helicopter, and a shot had been fired allegedly at one of their men. No Sundancer fired any shot at one of their men." (Defenders' Press Release, August 21, 1995) One of the Defenders' elders, Wolverine, accused the media of conspiring with the police and government to give the public false information about the situation in Gustafsen Lake. According to Wolverine, "private landholders are squatters on native land." (Vancouver Sun, August 22) Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh stated "'I think it's important that we deal with these issues in the most sensitive fashion possible". (The Province, August 22, 1995) "By August 21, (1995), the military had created Operation Wallaby, was gathering intelligence daily for briefings to Ottawa, and had begun a plan to use search- and-rescue-marked Buffalo aircraft to secretly airlift Bison crews in from Alberta. "The crews and their equipment were confined to an armoury in Kamloops to prevent detection and orders were given for no military aircraft to land at any airport nearby." (Vancouver Sun, April 12, 1996)
August 22: Defenders' counsel Dr. Bruce Clark wrote a letter to Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh and requested that charges of hate propaganda, complicity in genocide, criminal trespass, and criminal settlement be laid against RCMP Superintendent Olfert for his characterization of the Defenders as "terrorists" and his trespass on Shuswap land; Clark also requested that charges of criminal trespass, criminal settlement, fraud, misprision of fraud, high treason, extortion, and genocide be laid against Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Antonio Lamer for Lamer's stonewalling of Clark's legal challenge regarding the issue of native jurisdiction in unceded Hunting Grounds. The Defenders invited the RCMP to come into the camp to talk, instead of just storming the camp.
August 23: Ovide Mercredi, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, offered to help mediate. BC Premier Mike Harcourt, speaking at a leaders conference in Newfoundland, "inflames things by telling reporters that the Gustafsen Lake sundancers are seized with a 'cult mentality'." (Vancouver Sun, Sept. 12, 1995)
August 24: Counsel Dr. Bruce Clark asked Canada's Governor- General, Romeo LeBlanc, to take action to "apprehend the crimes in progress by the Canadian Ministers of State, Judges and Police" (Clark's letter to Queen Elizabeth II, August 26, 1995). According to RCMP, people inside the camp shot into the air, allegedly at a helicopter. Later RCMP disclosures reveal that one of the people in the helicopter heard no shots and saw no evidence of gunshots.
August 25: Canada's Governor-General responded to Bruce Clark's letter of August 24 by stating Clark should apply to the Canadian courts and government for relief. According to Clark, "by replying...that I should apply to the alleged criminals themselves for relief he has, knowingly, elected to aid and abet the said crimes in progress." (Clark's letter to Queen Elizabeth II, August 26, 1995). RCMP Sgt. Peter Montague informed the media that the RCMP would "only discuss 'a swift, decisive, unconditional surrender of themselves and all their weapons.'" (Globe and Mail, August 26, A3) AFN leader Ovide Mercredi went into the camp to attempt to negotiate a surrender. Mercredi refused to endorse the petition to the Queen; he was informed by Wolverine that people in the camp would not leave until their demands were met. After Mercredi left the camp, a shot was fired into the air. August 26: Counsel Dr. Bruce Clark again requested that Queen Elizabeth II address the petition dated January 3, 1995, as filed by Dr. Clark's clients. A letter from Bruce Clark to his clients inside the Gustafsen Lake encampment was blocked by RCMP when an agent for Clark attempted to deliver the document to the people inside the camp. RCMP Staff Sgt. Montague stated that "police cut the phone line to the camp 'so that they can't be further influenced by their lawyer, Bruce Clark, which is a problem.'" (Vancouver Sun, Aug. 30, 1995). Ovide Mercredi attempted to negotiate a surrender once more, and again failed in his attempt. Attorney general Ujjal Dosanhj finally officially requests of the military requests the help of the military from the Canadian Forces' headquarters in Ottawa although the military had already been training for Operation Wallaby by August 21, 1995 in Kamloops."The crews and their equipment were confined to an armory in Kamloops to prevent detection and orders were given for no military aircraft to land at any airport nearby." (Vancouver Sun, April 12, 1996).
August 27: Trees that had been felled across the road leading into the Sundance site were being cut by forestry workers under RCMP supervision when, according to RCMP, people from the Defenders' camp allegedly opened fire on the police truck. According to RCMP, the truck was riddled with bullets and the two officers were allegedly shot in the back; neither officer was harmed because they were wearing bullet-proof vests. The RCMP officiers were not able to produce the bullets. Although many media outlets presented the RCMP version of events as fact, other journalists questioned discrepancies in the RCMP story and pointed out that the Defenders' version of events was not yet known. The truck that was allegedly shot at was towed out later completely covered in a tarp to 'preserve the evidence'. A few days later it was shown to journalists with many bullet holes allegedly caused by the people from the camp. The flak jackets that were worn by the two officers were shown on TV - with no bullet marks in them. "Something, perhaps my gray hair, tells me that the story of an 'ambush' in a 'hail of bullets' fired by semi-automatic weapons doesn't stand up. When an ambush involves crossfire from two sides on unsuspecting targets - the story told by the Mounties - one would expect that someone would get hurt. If there is no wounded Mountie to photograph and show the pictures of, if there is no bullet-torn clothing to hold up at a press conference, I begin to sense that there is more or less to the "ambush" story than what reporters so confidently reported." (William Johnson, Montreal Gazette, August 29, 1995)
August 28: Counsel Dr. Bruce Clark flew in to Williams Lake to attempt to directly communicate with his clients inside the camp. RCMP refused to allow Dr. Clark to see or talk with his clients. Domestic and international support for the Defenders continued to grow. A vigil held in Toronto, Ontario to support the Defenders drew 80 people. A group in Victoria, BC shut down Attorney General Dosanjh's office at the Legislature when three people locked themselves to equipment inside his office. A rally outside the Legislature in Victoria drew dozens of people. Chief Saul Terry, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs releases a statement on the Standoff at Gustafsen Lake in which he accuses the RCMP, the Attorney General and the media as having gone "to great lengths to discredit the Shuswap sundancers and their supporters at Gustafsen Lake as dangerous fanatics in order to justify the use of armed force to remove them from the Sundance grounds....In trying to discredit and isolate the sundancers, the RCMP and the Attorney General are laying the groundwork for bloodshed - needless bloodshed. I condemn the RCMP ad the Attorney General for the dangerous provocative course they have embarked upon....The positions expressed by the sundancers on their nations' sovereignty and aboriginal title and rights are not "extremist". They are shared by many Indian peoples across this province. British Columbia is unceded Indian land.....Out peoples demand JUSTICE and RECOGNITION but whenever they stand up for their rights, they are subjected to the RULE OF LAW and POLICE STATE TACTICS!" (Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs - Press Release, August 28, 1995 )
August 29: Counsel Dr. Bruce Clark was allowed to use a police radio phone to make contact with his clients. A coalition of Peace and justice groups picketed the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC in support of the Defenders. A delegation of Native American leaders met with Canadian government officials within the embassy to discuss the crisis at Gustafsen Lake.
August 30: Rancher Lyle James signed an agreement with leaders of the Canoe Creek Indian Band that the Sundance site could be used in the future, "subject to conditions and time limits". Bruce Clark's repeated requests to be allowed inside the camp to speak directly to his clients were not approved by the RCMP. RCMP claimed they could not let Clark into the camp because they could not guarantee Clark's safety while inside the camp. Clark replied that Ovide Mercredi and others had been safely inside the camp, and that it was ludicrous to think his own clients would fire on him. Stuart and Francis Dick, caught behind the RCMP siege, walked out of camp. They were remanded for police interrogation.
August 31: Before dawn, Stuart and Francis Dick were released from police custody; no charges were laid against the two men. At approximately 5:30 am, Dr. Clark was again refused permission to see his clients inside the camp. Clark gave the police an ultimatum: either let him into the camp or send him home. When police refused to do either, Clark left for the airport at Williams Lake and prepared to fly home to Ottawa. Shortly before Dr. Clark was to board the plane in Williams Lake, two RCMP officers arrived via police helicopter and pleaded for Dr. Clark to return to the camp. An RCMP officer said, "Frustration is understandable". Clark replied, "frustration is not the problem. Deception is the problem. Bad faith is the problem" (transcript, CBC TV News, August 31, 6 pm). After the RCMP promised to let him into the camp at 2 pm, Clark agreed to return to the camp. At approximately 6 pm, Dr. Clark came out of the Defenders' camp. In his hands were a handful of bullet casings and an affidavit sworn by an independent journalist inside the camp. According to Dr. Clark, the casings and the affidavit showed that police had been firing directly at people inside the camp, and that the shooting incident on August 27 was instigated by police, not by the Defenders as the RCMP had claimed.
September 1: Dr. Bruce Clark and RCMP Sgt. D. Ryan made two agreements: (1) that Sgt. Ryan would submit Clark's proposal to expedite the jurisdictional adjudication by the Queen, by seeking the approval of the Attorney General of Canada; (2) that the RCMP would not attack the Defenders pending the decision of the Attorney General of Canada. Dr. Bruce Clark sent a letter to RCMP Sgt. Don Ryan, confirming that the Defenders would leave the camp if there was confirmation that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for Canada sent a letter to Queen Elizabeth II informing her that Canada takes no exception to the petition dated January 3 1995. Dr. Clark then flew back to Ottawa. When Dr. Clark arrived in Ottawa, he was informed that Ryan had submitted the request to the Attorney General of BC, not the Attorney General of Canada; BC Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh promptly vetoed the proposition.
September 2: Dr. Bruce Clark wrote Sgt. Ryan regarding Ryan's breach of the Sept. 1 agreement. Ryan responded, "redirecting the letter for Federal involvement is not necessary." (letter from Ryan to Clark, Sept. 2) Clark responded, "but that was our agreement. You remain contractually and morally bound to keep your word. And it is disingenuous for you to cite normal procedure as a pretext for breaking your word when your word was given to adopt an extraordinary procedure. The essence of your answer to me is that you are "JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS." But since Canada has accepted the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948, as you surely must know that old excuse for police complicity in genocide is not acceptable." (letter from Clark to Ryan, Sept. 2, 1995). RCMP announced a 2000 square mile no go zone around the camp. Although police admitted they could not hope to enforce such a large area, they asked people to respect the request not to go within this zone. According to RCMP, the request was made to try to keep hunters and others out of the area.
September 4: At a public meeting in Vancouver, BC, 50 people spoke in support of the Defenders and in condemnation of media exaggeration and government characterization of the Sundancers as "cult followers" Two police officers accidently ran their vehicle into a tree branch and panicked assuming themselves to be under attack and fled the scene firing widely. Although there was no attack, the RCMP gave a press conference held by John Ward and claimed that the officers had been ambushed and pursued. This non- existant attack was used to justify the introduction of the military into the area.
September 5: Armored personnel carriers were deployed into the "buffer zone" between the RCMP checkpoint and the encampment. Police informed the press that the APCs will be used to transport and protect RCMP patrols. According to the RCMP, "at about 20:45 hours, members of the RCMP came under fire by persons believed to be from the armed encampment at Gustafsen Lake...We are hopeful that by deploying these vehicles as a defensive precaution, we can resume Peaceful dialogue with the members in the encampment." (CBC Radio, Sept. 5) Margaret Clark, acting on behalf of Dr. Bruce Clark, filed an application for an injunction enjoining the RCMP against taking any action against the Defenders, pending the resolution of the constitutional and jurisdictional question posed by Dr. Clark, scheduled for hearing in the Supreme Court of Canada on Sept. 12. A 10-day fast and vigil carried out by supporters of the Defenders began at BC Premier Mike Harcourt's office in Vancouver, BC.
September 6: Ontario Provincial Police attempted to remove native occupiers of traditional lands at Ipperwash Provincial Park, Ontario. One of the traditionalists in this area is a client of Dr. Bruce Clark. When efforts to remove the occupiers were unsuccessful, police responded by sending in police in riot gear, who stormed the gate. The occupiers resisted, and the police then opened fire on the occupiers. Two men were hit. Dudley George died; the other, a 15-year old boy, may still be in critical condition.
September 7: At approximately noon, an RCMP helicopter was sent to investigate a red truck heading away from the encampment. According to the RCMP, shots were fired into the air at the helicopter.
September 8-10: A delegation of native elders brought food and tobacco into the camp. Talks between the elders and the people inside the camp ensued. Negotiation topics included a request that the RCMP relax their barrier around the camp so that people from within the camp could get adequate firewood and water. RCMP refused to allow a mother inside the camp to provide authorization for her little girl's temporary guardians, outside the camp, to approve an appendectomy, which may be necessary should the child's appendicitis worsen. According to Bill Lightbown, a Kootenai elder, RCMP spokesman Sgt. Peter Montague refused to permit a note of authorization to be carried out by a Shuswap delegation.
September 11: In the afternoon, two people accompanied by a dog in the camp truck went to the lake for water. Enroute the truck tripped a RCMP land mine and the explosion disabled the truck. The people inside the truck fled into the bush. One of the APC's rammed the rear of the truck though it had been effectively disabled by the explosion. The two unarmed camp members were pursued and fired upon by RCMP in armored personnel carriers. The RCMP shot and killed the dog. Eventually both the APCs pursued the two unarmed fleeing people firing at them as they fled for their lives. One of the RCMP officers present estimates that he shot between 30 to 50 rounds. Estimates put the number of RCMP involved in this incident at 60. Army issued M-16's and army ammunition were used. Thousands of rounds were fired at the Defenders. Testimony heard during the pre-trial by a member of the ERT said that the 'green light' had been given to shoot to kill. When people in the camp heard the shots, some of them came to save the lives of their friends by distracting the APC's. The great courage shown by one camp member when he stood in the path of an APC bearing down on him was unbelievable and frightened the occupants of the APC. The RCMP continued to block all communications with the camp, leading to much confusion and anxiety over the number of people wounded and the seriousness of the injuries. The RCMP press conference held at 6 pm revealed a dramatic change in tone. According to Penticton Band Councilor Stewart Philip, Montague's vicious tirade of demonization against the Sundance Defenders was "unglued": "He seemed to be really nervous. He didn't seem sure of what he was saying. I kind of get the impression they messed up big-time and the whole thing was going to blow up in his face." The RCMP "just want to go in there and bash heads in," said Shuswap Liaison Team member Don Ryan. "They're all set to kill people." (Vancouver Sun) BC Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh responded by saying "the police have conducted themselves admirably...obviously the chances of a Peaceful solution are dimming day by day." (Vancouver Sun) Shortly after the shooting, Native Liaison Team member Marlowe Sam went into the camp, and returned with two men from the camp. The two men were handcuffed and taken to the 100 Mile House RCMP detachment for interrogation. Earlier that day, an emergency meeting of Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) chiefs from across BC, held in Merritt BC, was addressed by 2 Shuswap supporters - elders Bill Lightbown, founder of United Native Nations, and Lavina White, both active sovereigntists. Lavina White (Thow Hagwelth Edinsoo/Sound of Many Copper Shields-So Be It-Their Word Is Law) of the hereditary High Chieftain Family of the Haida Nation - Raven Clan - and Lightbown called for and received unanimous support for two resolutions:
(1) Deadly military force never be the final option to resolve these human rights issues;"Senior RCMP officials considered asking the military to take over policing duties during last year's standoff with native Indians at Gustafsen Lake after a furious gun battle left the force's morale in tatters, The Vancouver Sun has learned." (Vancouver Sun, April 12, 1996) "Shortly after the option (of using the military) was considered Sept. 11 (1995), the military doubled the number of Bison personnel carriers at the scene, airlifted more crews in and set up a secondary maintenance facility to repair the vehicles. But it remained an armored taxi service for RCMP emergency-response teams that tried to out wait the militants. "From the outset, however, the military did not like being associated with the standoff. "When the RCMP first approached the army in mid-August for help, a memo from defence headquarters showed the military almost rejected giving any support at all. "The unsigned memo, written on letterhead belonging to the chief of staff, director-general of military plans and operations, indicated Solicitor-General Herb Grey, RCMP Commissioner Philip Murray and deputy Solicitor-general Jean Fournier were "very aware that Canadian Forces do not want to participate in any way."
(2) An international impartial UN mediator independent of the issues be appointed.
September 12: In the Supreme Court of Canada, Chief Justice Antonio Lamer refused to grant an injunction restraining RCMP actions pending a ruling on the Shuswaps' unextinguished, unsurrendered, constitutionally protected sovereignty and jurisdiction. Lamer called the applications "preposterous". (CBC TV Newsworld, 10 pm) The press reported that the non-native woman reported injured on Sept. 11, 1995 had been shot in the arm and did not want to leave the camp. Unconfirmed reports of a man missing from the camp, and feared to be wounded or dead, remained. The media revealed the third person wounded man was an RCMP officer, which later reports more correctly identified as a soldier, who had been slightly injured by a misfired RCMP stun grenade. Two young women left the camp and were placed in police custody. A man seen outside the camp boundaries was arrested and was held in police custody.
September 13: Spiritual leader Arvol Looking Horse arrived from South Dakota. He was escorted into the camp. The RCMP, acting on the belief that the Defenders would come out of the camp if they were assured that they would not be harmed, arranged with the CBC radio to broadcast assurances from the Canim Lake Indian Band chief, in English and in Secwepemc (Shuswap), that the people inside the camp would be treated fairly if they came out of the camp. Unfortunately the RCMP chose Antoine Archie who the Defenders have never trusted. Because of the poor choice of spokesperson, camp members were very uncertain as to the motives and intentions of the RCMP. Mr. Archie is probably the last person the Defenders would have trusted to insure fair treatment.
September 14: The Defenders announced they would not leave the camp unless their original demands were met, and UN observers were brought in as witnesses, to guarantee their safety.
September 16: Spiritual leader John Stevens goes into the camp and assures the Defenders that their work was done and they could leave the camp.
September 17: Defenders leave the camp voluntarily.
October 5: "When Suniva Bronson went to retrieve her driver's license from Police Headquarters in Kamloops earlier this month (October 5), she and her mother were taken into a closed office and interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. Corporal Murray Smith tried to discuss the standoff with them, naming people he assumed to be involved in certain incidents. Suniva refused to comment and eventually Smith forced them both to watch a video that the police had recorded of the infamous red truck being blown up by the land mine. Afterwards, he claimed that the only thing not recorded on video was Suniva being shot. He told her it was an RCMP .223 bullet taken out of her arm, but assured her that it would be impossible to find out who fired the shot because there were more than 60 officers in the field that day. He also threatened that there would be more charges laid of greater consequences, including the possibility of life sentences. Following this confrontation, other Defenders have been harassed by police with questions and similar threats at their homes, always without the presence of their lawyer. One couple was even stopped in their truck on a public street and interrogated right there." (Ts'peten Defenders Press Release, October 24, 1995). Many of the Defenders out on bail experienced varieties of harrassment from RCMP stopping and questioning Defenders without their lawyers to constant helicopter surveillance over their farms.