Nov 18/98: Open letter to Svend Robinson re: coverup


Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty (S.I.S.I.S.)
Wednesday, November 18, 1998

To: Canadian MP Svend Robinson

Re: Your ongoing stonewalling of an inquiry into government, military and police actions at Gustafsen Lake, 1995, and the ongoing coverup

Dear Mr. Robinson,

In response to a number of letters urging you to support an inquiry into RCMP, government and military actions against native activists and non-native supporters at Gustafsen Lake in 1995, you replied:

From: "Svend Robinson, MP" -
Subject: Gustafsen Lake Inquiry
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 23:36:22 -0800

In response to a number of messages, I am forwarding the attached document. I welcome your feedback on this important issue.

I am writing in response to your communication concerning the events at Gustafsen Lake in the summer of 1995. After a very careful review of the circumstances that summer, and recognizing the serious concerns raised by a number of those who have examined these events, I am unable to support the call for a public inquiry. I have long supported recognition of aboriginal land claims, and recognition of the inherent right to self-government. Indeed, I have stood on blockades in Gwaii Hanas and Clayoquot Sound in support of these fundamental rights. I have often spoken out in condemnation of systemic racism in the justice system in Canada, and will continue to do so. Nevertheless, a cardinal principle of respect for the rights of first nations peoples in Canada must surely be recognition of the rights of those who are in positions of local leadership in a community. At Gustafsen Lake, both the hereditary and the elected first nations leadership in that area condemned the use of arms by protestors. As well, the First Nations Summit leadership an B.C., and Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Ovid Mercredi joined in this condemnation of the taking up of arms, including AK 47 automatic rifles and other guns. They voiced gratitude for the fact that there was no loss of life, and thanked the Cariboo tribal council leaders for the peacemaking role they played. I agree. I will continue to speak out against racism and the appalling ongoing violations of the human rights of first nations peoples in Canada and globally. As well, my New Democrat colleagues and I will continue to support the treaty negotiation process in B.C., including the recently concluded Nisga'a treaty. This process, while often painstakingly slow and difficult, is certainly preferable to taking up guns and violence, as occurred in the summer of 1995 at Gustafsen Lake.

You imply that there is no support for a public inquiry. Do you, then, refuse to acknowledge the support for an independent, impartial inquiry that has come from the very body you refer to -- the Assembly of First Nations -- and your own party leader, Alexa Mcdonough? How would you respond to the many other groups and individuals who have called for a public inquiry, including Lil'Wat Estken; Moloqhil Tinamat; Defensoria Maya (Guatemala); Te Ropa Maori; Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Native Peoples (CASNP); The Green Group of the European Parliament; The Black Community Collective; Black Autonomy International; The Afrikan Frontline Network; ARA (Kingston); North West Leonard Peltier Support Network; Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC); Council of Canadians; Building Bridges to Chiapas; The National Green Party of Canada; Ramsey Clark, Former US Attorney General and Council to Leonard Peltier; Ts'peten Defence Committee; Incomindios; Kola; Kwia; For Mother Earth (Belgium); National Campus/Community Radio Association (NCRA); the Canadian Union of Public Employees [CUPE], Local 50 (Victoria Outside Workers); and the SFU Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU)? Not to mention the same Apec protesters -- like Jaggi Singh or the members of Democracy Street -- for whom you selectively denounce "police state tactics"?

An independent, impartial inquiry will reveal the truth about what happened. If, as you imply, the government's actions were correct, then the government has nothing to fear by agreeing to an inquiry. What are you, and other government members, afraid of?

Could it be the 77,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the Canadian military & military forces from 16 ton Armoured Personnel Carriers? The admissions of a "smear and disinformation campaign" by the RCMP? The firing on unarmed people in a "no fire" zone? The ongoing imprisonment of Ts'Peten Defender and Shuswap Elder Wolverine, and blocking of his appeal at every level of the courts? Or the police torture of Wolverine's handicapped son Jo-Jo during incarceration? Perhaps the sinister implications of the presence of the psy-ops instructor from the FBI training academy - who also "consulted" at the Waco Texas massacre, and the MRTA Embassy incident in Lima Peru?

Perhaps you are afraid that an inquiry will reveal the extent of corruption and dishonor in the NDP government's efforts to eliminate indigenous nations sovereign rights to their lands and to self-determination, aka the BC "Trick or Treaty Process"? Or perhaps you are afraid that an inquiry will reveal that it is not native people who are dragging use closer to bloodshed, but the NDP government, by stonewalling all peaceful means of halting the ongoing genocide of native peoples?

As a board member of BC Civil Liberties, along with former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt, you should be forcefully advocating for an inquiry, not trying to bury and suppress it.

What, Mr. Robinson, are you afraid an inquiry will reveal?


Joshua Goldberg
for Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty

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