Nov 6/97: Ts'Peten Defenders separated, denied visits


Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty (S.I.S.I.S.)
Thursday, November 6, 1997

Ts'peten Defender James "OJ" Pitawanakwat, sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for his stand in defence of indigenous rights against the 1995 invasion of sacred, unceded burial and Sundance grounds in the 1995 Gustafsen Lake crisis, has been transferred from the Matsqui federal prison to the Mission Institution.

The move further isolates Shuswap elder Wolverine, 66, who remains behind in the federal maximum security jail. A protracted and difficult institutional approval process for visits has meant that only one person has successfully obtained authorization to see the elder, highly respected Shuswap traditionalist, old age pensioner, and heritage seed grower. Matsqui authorities have even banned the national spokesperson for the Free the Wolverine Campaign (FWC), John "Splitting the Sky" Hill, from visiting or bringing legal materials necessary for Wolverine's appeal application. Pitawanakwat's transfer is seen as a further attempt to break down the resistance of this indomitable warrior.

This goal was previously pursued by the torture and beating of Wolverine's developmentally disabled son Jo Jo while in custody. A specialist, who said Jo Jo has mental age equivalent to that of a six year old, testified that Jo Jo suffered alarming abuse while incarcerated, which eventually led to a suicide attempt. Though at the time they were held in the same provincial institution, Wolverine was not permitted to see his son. Jo Jo was later acquitted by a jury who heard evidence that the RCMP were aware all along that he was hundreds of miles away from the scene of the alleged offence with with he was charged. He is now at the family home in Chase, BC, recovering from his ordeal, together with his mother, Ts'peten Defender Flo Sampson, who for her role in the Gustafsen siege remains under house arrest and electronic monitoring under the supervision of the NDP Attorney General's Department.

In a phone conversation with S.I.S.I.S, Wolverine said that prison psychologists had attempted to engage him on the subject of the standoff and "tried to make me sorry for my actions". OJ Pitawanakwat has also reported psychological interventions "to try and brainwash me".

The appeals of both men and non-native Shelagh Franklin are before the Supreme Court of Canada, awaiting a decision from the court as to whether it will hear the appeals.

Mr. Ignace, (Wolverine) was sentenced to 8 years in prison, after having already served 22 months in jail before and during the trial, the longest criminal trial in Canadian history. It was widely criticized as a "kangaroo court", fraught with irregularities, including the denial of Wolverine and other defendants to representation by their counsel of choice, internationally known native rights lawyer Dr. Bruce Clark. Clark was arrested when he arrived in Vancouver to appear at the the highly political and virtually unreported trial. Clark continues to allege a massive fraud by the Canadian authorities, who he argues have prematurely assumed jurisdiction over unceded, untreatied Native territories, and have stonewalled all attempts to have the issue heard.

Your assistance is requested to help these indigenous political prisoners to at least survive their unjust and immoral criminalization and incarceration by:

1) pressuring the authorities to cease and desist the persecution of prisoners by "counselors" or psychologists;

2) demanding that FTW spokesperson John Splitting the Sky Hill be restored access to Wolverine, so that he may to continue to act and communicate with Wolverine as his agent;

3) sending letters of support and encouragement to both Wolverine and Mr. Pitawanakwat for their defence of native rights, resistance to ongoing Canadian colonialist practices, and continuing attempts to have the issue of indigenous sovereignty and jurisdiction respected by the Canadian and provincial BC governments.

Write to:
Andy Scott, Solicitor-General of Canada (Corrections)
340 Laurier Ave West, Ottawa, Ontario K1A OP8 Canada
Phone: (613) 991-2924
Fax: (613) 996-9955
Faxing by email:

Please forward a copy of your letter to S.I.S.I.S.

Write to the Ts'peten Political Prisoners:
Wolverine (William Jones Ignace)
Political Prisoner
P.O. Box 4000, Abbotsford, BC V2S 5X8 Canada

James "OJ" Pitawanakwat
Political Prisoner
c/o Mission Institution
P.O. Box 60, Mission, BC V2V 4L8 Canada

For more information:
Splitting the Sky
National spokesperson, Free the Wolverine Campaign
Phone/Fax: (604) 543-9661

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