Mar 26/98: Human rights not happening in BC


The Martlet, University of Victoria Student Newspaper
March 26, 1998

Just plain grotesque.

What else can we say about BC Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh's assurances on March 23 to the United Native Nations (UNN) that his NDP government is committed to fighting hate crime against Aboriginals?

Ujjal Dosanjh is the chief law officer of a settler state that has tried for 140 years to destroy Aboriginal nations by whatever means possible--including the use of hate to manufacture consent for its genocidal policies. Dosanjh's NDP government opposes Aboriginal sovereignty as much as any settler state ever has or will. This was clearest during the 1995 Gustafsen Lake siege when Dosanjh referred to the Shuswap traditionalists defending their sovereignty as terrorists, militants and criminals.

The hate propaganda Dosanjh used to demonize the Aboriginals effectively manufactured consent for the paramilitary assaults on the camp. RCMP Commander at Gustafsen Lake Len Olfert, said: "It was necessary to insure that the public perceived a continued threat from the people of the camp."

And former Assembly of First Nations chief and Canadian government employee Ovide Mercredi said the RCMP had decided to invade Shuswap territory at Gustafsen Lake because "white public opinion demanded it."

For the Attorney General to declare, as terrorists, a people asserting their sovereign rights--when there is a legitimate and unresolved challenge to jurisdiction--constitutes an outrageous abuse of power.

That Dosanjh is also the Minister Responsible for Human Rights only amplifies the reality that hate crime against Aboriginals is perpetrated at the very highest levels of government in BC.

Racial intolerance toward Aboriginals is so entrenched in the social psyche of this province that even a recent Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) ruling affirming their title to the land has caused an increase in racism, according to the UNN.

It is the BC media and political elites that are behind the growing campaign to portray Aboriginal title as a threat to the economic stability of the province. High unemployment, economic uncertainty, expensive land claims settlements--such threats, have always been manipulated by settler governments to fuel an increase in hatred toward Aboriginals. The Delgamuukw ruling, though it addresses land title instead of sovereignty, certainly vindicates the people at Gustafsen Lake who merely wanted an independent court to address the land ownership question. An independent court was demanded because the settler courts, according to the Canadian constitution, cannot sit in judgment of a case in which they have a vested interest. But Dosanjh would not allow independent intervention in the siege. Wonder why?

That no court has ever legally acquired jurisdiction over Aboriginal nations in BC means simply that the Delgamuukw ruling, is like all legislation, meant to absorb Aboriginals into Canadian society.

It was intended to undermine their sovereignty and force them into the settler courts where they must somehow prove their historical occupation of their own territories. Cree lawyer Sharon Venne calls Delgamuukw: "More hocus pocus rules and regulation designed by the colonizers to dispossess Indigenous Peoples of our land and territories." Until there is a public inquiry into the racist hate crime that was Gustafsen Lake, the empty mouthings of Attorney General Dosanjh to the UNN are at best unbelievable, and at worst, more of the NDP's sinister manipulations of reality.

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