Support Ts'Peten Defenders: sample letters



Please write! You can use one of the sample letters below or compose your own. You can send it to S.I.S.I.S. for forwarding (PO Box 8673, Victoria, BC Canada V8X 3S2, email: or send copies directly to politicians and human rights organizations at the addresses below. Keep in mind that hand-written letters (by conventional mail or fax) are given more weight than computerized letters.

Make sure you include your name and full address so they'll have to acknowledge your letter. And please send one copy to S.I.S.I.S. so the Defenders can know they're getting support.

* Sample letters

   - Letter demanding inquiry and immediate release of Wolverine
   - Letter demanding disciplinary action against police
   - Letter regarding shoddy media coverage of trial
   - Sample e-mail (shorter than other letters)

* Addresses to send letters to


May 28, 1997

Dear Prime Minister Chretien;

I am writing to condemn in the strongest terms possible Canada's handling of the Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) matter, and to demand the freedom of the Shuswap Elder Wolverine, who is still in jail due to charges stemming from the 1995 military, government, and police siege of people defending sacred Sundance grounds at Ts'peten.

Canada claims to have jurisdiction over Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake), though government lawyers admit that Canada has never legally obtained the land by treaty or purchase from the Secwepemc (Shuswap) nation. These traditionalist Secwepemcs and their allies were convicted of "mischief to private property" for refusing to abandon sacred Sundance and burial grounds in their own Secwepemc territory. They have been vilified in propaganda disseminated by media, government and police as "squatters," "fanatics," "cultists," and "terrorists." They have been criminalized for defending themselves when the RCMP "declared war" on them (The Province, Aug. 20, 1995), besieging them with the largest police/military operation in Canadian history, and attacking them with Armoured Personnel Carriers, land mines and 77,000 rounds of internationally prohibited hollow point ammunition. Wolverine was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, and refused the opportunity to appeal.

This is outrageous, but it is consistent with Canada's continuing colonialist policies toward indigenous nations. The state's attempted murder of the Sundancers at Ts'peten - not all of the 77,000 rounds fired by RCMP can be dismissed as warning shots - is not an anomaly. In the context of the internment, systematic deculturation and horrific abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools, the deliberate spread of small-pox, the concentration-camp-like conditions on many Indian Reserves, the forced sterilization of indigenous women, and the long-time prohibition of core structures of indigenous identity, like the potlatch, the Ghostdance and the Sundance, it becomes apparent that the Canadian actions against the aboriginal traditionalists at Gustafsen Lake are part of a long-standing campaign of genocide.

This explains why Canada flatly refused to refer the legal question of jurisdiction over unceded native territory to a third-party tribunal - the Defenders' only demand. It also explains why the Canadian judge in their trial ordered the jury to disregard all arguments that the land came under Shuswap, not Canadian jurisdiction. The whole process has demonstrated amply that the Defenders were correct in asserting that the Canadian court system, an interested party in the dispute, is not unbiased.

Genocide is a crime against humanity and has no time limit on prosecution; Canada will continue to be liable even after it abandons its current agenda of extinguishment. Yet Canada could still send a message that it will begin to respect the rule of law. The Ts'peten Defenders are not criminals, they are people who stood in defense of legally protected native rights. Canada should:

1. Free Secwepemc elder Wolverine immediately;

2. Allow a full and comprehensive public inquiry into all aspects of the Gustafsen Lake operation, with international observers present to monitor the process;

3. Attorn the dispute about jurisdiction over unsurrendered Native land to an independent, impartial, third-party tribunal, like the World Court at The Hague or the special constitutional court first instituted by Queen Anne to resolve this type of disagreement between colonist and Native nations.

World-wide, indigenous peoples are asserting their internationally recognized rights of sovereignty and self-determination, and rejecting colonial mechanisms of control such as the Indian Act Band Council system. Most of BC is still unsurrendered Native land and Canada cannot continue to offer fraudulent "solutions" like the BC Treaty process, which does not recognize existing indigenous sovereignty and is headed by Alec Robertson, a former director of Daishowa (the logging giant infamous for attacks on the Lubicon Cree). Nation to nation relations must be grounded in truth, respect and consent, and that will be impossible until Canada squarely and honestly faces the travesty of justice it committed at Gustafsen Lake.


(your name)

Go to addresses

[SISIS note: The following letter was sent to SISIS in response to our call for letters demanding an independent (i.e., non-governmental) inquiry into the standoff at Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) in 1995, and the subsequent and ongoing legal proceedings. The author gave her permission for us to post the letter on this site.]


January 4, 1997

Mr. Herb Gray, Solicitor General
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Sir,

I would like to draw to your attention unacceptable behaviour of some members of our National police force which has been surfacing at the Gustafsen Lake trial of late. I am very disturbed that such attitudes and activities should be tolerated in Canada, and I hope that you will take appropriate disciplinary action to effect speedy changes.

The enclosed material should clarify what I am talking about. Planting misinformation about defendants in media is not what democracy and personal freedom is about. In fact it is a truly shocking departure from allowing people to have a fair trial.

If I had not taken the initiative to go to hear for myself, I would have a completely different picture of the situation based on media reports. To discover that there was a deliberate conspiracy to manufacture misinformation to "make the police look good" and "make the Natives look bad" is disgusting! The implication that this may be common practice is terrifying!

I have wondered about the whole situation at Gustafsen Lake trial over the last few months of attending there. The mismanagement goes beyond poor communications. There would seem to be some underlying intent of creating tensions between Aboriginal people and the population at large in this Province. What might be the purpose of this? Could it be to cover up the real problems in that area, which is unsustainable resource use by commercial interests? British Columbians of all cultural backgrounds are the losers in such games.

I urge you in the strongest terms to immediately change this policy. Let's install a democratic justice system, where all people, regardless of cultural background, are truly presumed to be innocent, until proven guilty. And above all let's fire cops who manufacture falsehoods about defendants in the media! I don't want people like that "protecting" me, do you?

I hope action on this will not be put on a back burner. I truly believe this is a test case, where our democratic institutions, and the way our police treat a certain racial minority are on trial. You should obtain the transcripts, and study them. It would be time well spent in the advancement of justice.

Yours truly,

Go to addresses

[SISIS note: the following letter was sent to media in Canada and the US by the Manitoba Warrior Society. It is posted here with their permission.]



The Manitoba Warrior Society is concerned about the lack of media coverage afforded the Gustafsen Lake Warriors, as their trial continues to unfold in Surrey, British Columbia. The standoff attracted much media attention when 400 RCMP and Canadian Army personel showed up to arrest our brothers on Native lands. Now the two levels of government are bringing in their top lawyers from their Attorney Generals office to argue their right to impose Canadian law in unceded territories, and no media is to be found. There seems to be a self imposed media ban in place to suppress the truth our brothers are trying to bring out. We have noticed this, as our members have attended the trial, and it concerns us. It seems odd that barely any Canadian newspapers or media would find it interesting that RCMP would use land mines against Native people and arm its officers with 50 caliber weapons. We hope your media outlet is willing to take steps to increase your audience's awareness of this miscarriage of justice.


Manitoba Warrior Society

Click here to go directly to media addresses


To whom it may concern, I wish to protest -- in the strongest possible way -- the unacceptable treatment of the Ts'peten Defenders, and the continuing colonialistic behavior of Canada and the NDP government of BC. The continued incarceration of Wolverine as a political prisoner is an international disgrace.

I demand a public inquiry into human rights abuses committed by police and government actions in 1995 at Ts'peten. As well, I strongly urge you to use independent, impartial third-party negotiation of jurisdictional disputes, rather than brute force and military means.



Go to addresses



Solicitor-General of Canada (Corrections)
340 Laurier Ave West, Ottawa, Ontario K1A OP8
Tel: (613) 991-2924
Fax: (613) 996-9955

Glen Clark
Premier of British Columbia and Minister Responsible for Youth
Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., Canada, V8V 1X4
Tel: (250) 387-1715
Fax: (250) 387-0087
Constituency: Tel (604) 431-8119, Fax (604) 660-0279

Ujjal Dosanjh
Attorney General of British Columbia and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, Human Rights (!) and Immigration
Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., Canada, V8V 1X4
Tel: (250) 387-1866, 387-4574, or 356-8745
Fax: (250) 387-6411
Constituency: Tel (604) 322-6375, Fax (604) 775-1097

NEW TOLL-FREE NUMBER FOR UJJAL DOSANJH: Ujjal Dosanjh has set up a telephone hotline for reporting "hate crimes". We suggest: the attempted murder of native defenders at Gustafsen Lake; the complicity of the Canadian Judiciary in genocide; the lies, violence and corruption of RCMP, media and military... The number is 1-800-563-0808. (Thanks to Tasmania Human Rights Group for the info)
Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
- taking submissions on the fraudulent BC Treaty Commission
c/o Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., Canada, V8V 1X4
Ian Waddell, Chair: Tel (250) 387-2317, Fax (250) 356-7156
Committee Clerk: Tel (250) 356-6318

Ombudsman of British Columbia
931 Fort Street, Victoria, B.C., Canada, V8V 3K3
Toll free: 1-800-567-3247
Fax: (250) 387-0198

Assembly of First Nations

Click HERE for addresses of federal politicians


Judge Bruce Josephson
Supreme Court of British Columbia
Bigbie Square, New Westminster, B.C., Canada, V3M 1C9
Tel: (604) 660-8586
Fax: (604) 660-8977

J Ray Hall
Regional Crown Counsel, Criminal Justice Branch, Ministry of the Attorney General
Room 463 1011 4th Ave., Prince George, BC, Canada, V2L 3H9
Fax: (250) 565-6058

The Administrative Crown Counsel
14340 57th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada, V3X 1B2
Tel: (604) 572-2360
Fax: (604) 572 2398

Judge Nicholas Friesen
c/o The Registry Office
350 Barlow Ave., Quesnel, BC, Canada, V2J 2C1

Brian Williams
Chief Justice, Supreme Court of British Columbia
800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6Z 2E1
Tel: (604) 660-2760
Fax: (604) 660-0752

Alan McEachern
Chief Justice, Appeal Court of British Columbia
800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6Z 2E1
Tel: (604) 660-2710
Fax: (604) 660-2833


RCMP Public Complaints Commission
670-840 Howe St., Vancouver, B.C. Canada, V6Z 2L2
Tel: (604) 666-7363, (613) 952-1471, or 1-800-665-6878
Fax: (604) 666-7362 or (613) 952-8048

Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division (British Columbia)
657 West 37th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V5Z 1K6
Tel: (604) 264-3111
Fax: (604) 264-3196

Williams Lake RCMP Detachment
Phone: (250) 392-6211
Fax (250) 392-2994

100 Mile House Detachment
Fax: (604) 395-3605


Conspicuously absent in monitoring the situation at Ts'peten were:

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
425-815 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6C 1B4
Tel: (604) 687-2919
Fax: (604) 687-3045

British Columbia Council of Human Rights
815 Hornby, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6Z 2E6
Tel: (604) 660-6811
Fax: (604) 660-0195

British Columbia Human Rights Coalition
718-744 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6C 1A3
Tel: (604) 689-8474
Fax: (604) 689-7511

Click HERE for addresses of international human rights organizations


Georgia Straight - Vancouver weekly "alternative" magazine
(generally better coverage than mainstream, but very sporadic)
Fax: (604) 730-7010

Monday Magazine - Victoria weekly "alternative" magazine
(generally better coverage than mainstream, but still very spotty)
Fax: (250) 381-2662

The Province - Vancouver daily tabloid

The Vancouver Sun - Vancouver daily newspaper
Fax: (604) 732-2133
Letters to editor:
City editor:

Times Colonist - Victoria daily newspaper
Fax: (250) 380-5353

Click HERE for addresses of national media

Local media which has given reasonably good coverage (thank them):
   * CFRO Coop Radio, Vancouver:
   * Terminal City, Vancouver:
     - see Terminal City's ongoing series on Ts'peten


Urge them to take a strong public stand in support of an independent, impartial third-party inquiry into the events at Gustafsen Lake.

United Native Nations
8th floor, 736 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6Z 1G3
Tel: (604) 688-1821
Fax: (604) 688-1823

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
342 Water Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6B 1B6
Tel: (604) 684-0231
Fax: (604) 684-5726

Assembly of First Nations
Territory of Akwesasne, Hamilton's Island, Summerstown, Ont., K0C 2E0
Tel: (613) 931-1012
Fax: (613) 931-2438

Assembly of First Nations - Ottawa Office
1002-1 Nicholas Street, Ottawa, Ont., Canada, K1N 7B7
Tel: (613) 241-6789
Fax: (613) 241-5808


Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty (SISIS)
PO Box 8673, Victoria, BC, Canada V8X 3S2
WWW: ~vipirg/SISIS/SISmain.html

Ts'peten Defence Committee
Spokesperson: Elder Bill Lightbown
#202-1766 Frances Street, Vancouver, Salish Territory
via BC, Canada V5L 1Z6
Phone/Fax: (604) 251-4949

Free Wolverine Committee - Seattle

Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Native Peoples (CASNP)
P.O. Box 991, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory (Quebec, Canada) J0L 1B0
Tel: (450) 632-6926
Fax: (450) 632-8914
President of CASNP, Kahn-Tineta Horn:

Back to SIS