Dec/97: Statements by Ts'peten political prisoners


Free the Wolverine Campagign - Seattle office
December, 1997


Over here we were supposed to talk to some of the young Defenders in the prison. And a few people spoke. But when it was my turn to speak, I told them that the whole judicial system is so corrupt in this country that they don't want to deal with their own laws. This is what I told the judge during our 'trial' [for standing in armed defense of the Shuswap nation in 1995]. But he told us he didn't want to listen to our jurisdiction argument. I started working on the jurisdiction argument, I guess, in 1991.

I told the young Defenders that the corruption goes through all the court levels. All the way to Ottawa. I said that Canada wants to change the law that we stand on. They want us to go to their settler courts so that we give up International Law for their corrupt settler laws. This is not a 'fair trial'. This does not respect our sovereignty. They have no jurisdiction. They can't 'give' rights to us. Even their own laws say this.

I explained that I was a political prisoner here, in this institution, in this penitentiary, serving another 4 and-a-half years for trying to bring out this law of Canada. That they have no jurisdiction on Indian land. If they don't agree, their own law says to go to a third party. But Canada won't do this, because they know that the land is Indian land. This is what a third party will tell them. Because this is Canada's own law. The law is what I brought out and the law is what scared them. We will NOT defend our rights in court!

British Columbia is trying to stop us from fighting them. They want to take our land and water and everything else. They're working this way: their laws say we have to go into their court, in front of their judge. Their judge will issue a paper that will say we have no right to Indian land. Then that paper from the judge will criminalize us. And that's what they'll use to import an army into our territory.

That's what happened with our lawyer, Dr. Bruce Clark. We were defending ourselves on this jurisdiction argument. He tried to open the doors of the Governor General's office and get to the Privy Council to have a third party say this is Indian land. But we were shut off. They wanted to kill him. They arrested him, put him in jail and took away his license to practice law in Canada.

... I've tried many, many different ways to raise the law out there. I guess since 1990. But I'm not a lawyer. I'm just an advisor. We've been criminalized by the state and by the law. The same law that we're trying to stand on. The law of jurisdiction.

It's funny how corrupt they are. How they covered up everything. All their lies. Everything was covered up, even through the trial. Especially by the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police]. There was only one or two of the RCMP that we forced to admit the truth. Out of the whole police force! This should show you how corrupt they are. So we tried to get the Attorney General on the stand. But of course the judge said that he didn't want the Attorney General to come on the stand because that would have opened the lies up all the way, right into Ottawa, where the Attorney General there, and everybody else there is working to stop us from getting to the Privy Council. That would have opened up a can of worms.

... Well, I think the struggle is just now beginning. And people will keep fighting for freedom. Because freedom is what it's all about, right? And, I believe a person will not stop until they get that. Outside this penitentiary, and inside, the struggle will carry on.

... This is supposed to be hard for me to say in here, inside the belly-of-the-beast, but a person has got to make that stand.

Thank you to all of you who keep fighting. And to the people in Chiapas: I was inspired by you. I met a few of them in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the end of 1993. A few days before the uprising. NAFTA is the same fight for us. In the South and in the North. And that has to be brought out. Because water is the issue up here. And the corporations, international bankers, and NAFTA are taking it away. But, it's Indian land! We have to stop them and we have to fight together.

To contact Wolverine:

Wolverine (aka William Jones Ignace)
Political Prisoner
RRAC Matsqui
P.O. Box 4000, Abbotsford, B.C., V2S 5X8, CANADA


We are being systematically displaced from our culture. And it starts off like this: There are a minority of people, an elite group, who want to exploit Native people and Native land. Especially here in British Columbia. We've got the water, the trees, the minerals. It's ALL on Native land. They don't have treaties with the Native people. No one does. Therefore, the original jurisdiction belongs to the original inhabitants, which are the Native people.

What happened back in 1995, was nothing but a classic continuation of cultural genocide, oppression, aggression, in the most extreme and aggravating circumstances. I'm a first-hand witness to their genocidal assault, to their understanding of who they are, their due-process of criminalizing the Native people, their due-process of covering up their mistakes, their using their politicians to strong-arm in a state-police fashion, to minimize their blame, their cover-up, their on-going scam of ripping-off the Native people. What I witnessed in 1995 was incredible. What I saw there was the face of this beast. And this beast comes in different forms, different shapes and different smiles. Everyone always TALKS about a beast. But this beast tried to DEVOUR our people up at Gustafsen Lake! If it wasn't for the people preparing themselves spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally for the issues - the outstanding, ongoing issues - like the jurisdiction question, the land question, they would have been devoured.

Just as in the U.S., where the Black Liberation struggle fights oppression there, Natives in Canada fight for liberation here. Just like there is Black oppression, there is Native opression.

Canada's got this legacy. And it's as outdated as slavery. So, this province [of British Columbia] still needs to be dominated, legally. So far we haven't got it down on paper. But when we try to stand up for our rights, and for who we are, they imprison us. They incriminate us, and criminalize us, to make themselves look like the 'good guys' with their 'smear campaigns', and their 'disinformation campaigns'. I, myself, don't view myself as a militant or a terrorist. I'm just standing up for who I am. I'm standing up for my children's rights, and for the next seven generations that are yet to come. And for their rights.

We as individuals, we need to pull together. Just like the fingers on a hand. Pulling together symbolizes unity. So wherever people are. Stand together! Come in masses! Because once 'the public' knows what's really happening, there's really not much the government can do. Because we as a people are going to come together. We will stand up for who we are. There's going to be tidal waves coming in. Just like what happened up here in Canada when we had Ipperwash going on [in 1995], where they killed a Native brother, Dudley George, for standing up for what was rightfully his. His inheritance, his burial grounds, his ancestors. The same thing was going on all over British Columbia. You had Native people protecting their ancestors that are laying in the ground, that need to be rested. All over the province, you had these same types of blockades going up. And the government was losing face dealing with these issues. Dealing with blockades, dealing with stand-offs, etc. You had Penticton going up, you had Adams Lake, Merrit, etc. All these Native people were protecting what was theirs. So the government had to pick a point to intimidate all the Native nations.

Actually, what they were trying to do was to pull all the hard-cores into one spot so they could eliminate them in a Waco-style assault. They have to intimidate the Native people to not ask the jurisdiction question, and to make treaties, and to conform to the dominant society with disregard as to who they are, where they come from.

This is what they're doing to the Native people. That's why I emphasize to the Native people "DON'T MAKE TREATIES" because you already own all of this, LEGALLY! You've got the constitution backing you up on this. You've got the Royal Proclamation of 1763 validating your position, that this is all unceded territory. Therefore we should remain unmolested and undisturbed in our possession and enjoyment of our own defined territories.

That's why in 1995 Canada moved with this massive raid of fire power against the Native people. To intimidate them. The convictions of the Ts'peten Defenders are in place to intimidate the youth who are looking toward the future about settling land claims and ongoing issues. This is just intimidation. Plus, the government had to get somebody to be the examples, to look like the criminals, to justify that massive force that they used against the Native people. And they had to justify that 5.5 million dollars they spent on this.

I view myself as a political prisoner. As a prisoner of war. There's a cold war going on here. Hostility between nations. It's mostly done behind closed doors. I believe this is just the beginning of what's to come, the tip of the iceberg, if they don't deal with Native people fairly. If we don't put a stop to it, it's just going to continue and many people will be either imprisoned or killed. If we don't come together. This is what I see happening up here in Canada.

We can see the similarities in the United States, when there was the Black Liberation Army, the Black Panthers, and how the U.S. made war against them for standing up for their rights. This is exactly the same scenario that's happening over here, in Canada. It's almost like, whatever they did in the U.S. they move up here and try on the Indians.

But, victory is inevitable! We as Native people have always been victorious. Even though we've suffered genocide and cultural genocide, we're STILL HERE. And we have our ancestors to thank. Because they made sure that our ceremonies, and religions survived, so we could continue to provide life and security. When we pray, we pray to the four directions. We pray to the four corners of the universe. We pray for the four races of people. The Black people, the Yellow people, the White people, and the Red people. We do everything in synchronicity when we pray. This is what intimidated them the most. I believe that's why they couldn't come in there [at Gustafsen Lake] and do that kind of assault which would have resulted in the death of all of us. Because we had our spirituality with us, and it was a strong point.

You cannot separate the issues. Alot of people will say that it's a political issue, it's a spiritual issue,... It's all intertwined. You can't untwine it. When Native people are talking about their religion, also included in that religion is the land, the water, the air. Everything is all intertwined together. This is what we've been trying to protect. Our inheritance. For the future generations that have yet to walk on this earth. Like my children. And my children's children. This is what the struggle's all about. About protecting what they deserve. And this is going to continue. And it's going to continue unless Canada deals with us in good faith. They have to foster tolerance. They have to deal with us as individuals within a collective body.

It's going to happen. We just have to continue to struggle. Don't give up. It's just like the expression that I've heard: Things get worse, and worse, and worse. Like an elastic band that's being stretched and stretched and stretched. And, just when you think it's going to break, it snaps back to normal. That's what I believe is going to happen.

So, to all the people out there, stand together. Be strong. And foster tolerance out there, and FREEDOM!

To contact OJ Pitawanakwat:

OJ (aka James Pitawanakwat)
Political Prisoner
Mission Institution
P.O. Box 60, Mission, B.C., V2V 4L8, CANADA

The above statements by Ts'peten political prisoners Wolverine and OJ Pitawanakwat are taken from the December Newsletter of the Free the Wolverine Campaign, Seattle Office. To receive copies of this newsletter, contact:

The Seattle Office of the Free Wolverine Campaign
Phone: 206-233-7982

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