Sep /95: Gustafsen Lake-Police escalate tension


Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty (S.I.S.I.S.)
Tuesday, September 12, 1995

Details of what occurred Monday afternoon are not yet verifiable due to a complete monopoly of info by Canadian state authorities, but it appears that ever-increasing support from the indigenous grassroots resulted in a pre-emptive strike to return the Gustafsen Lake crisis to an "emergency" situation justifying an end to negotiations and an assault upon the Shuswap Defenders.

Early Monday, an emergency meeting of Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) chiefs from across BC, held in Merritt BC, was addressed by 2 Shuswap supporters - elders Bill Lightbown, founder of United Native Nations, and Lavina White, both active sovereigntists.

Lavina White (Thow Hagwelth Edinsoo/Sound of Many Copper Shields-So Be It-Their Word Is Law) of the hereditary High Chieftain Family of the Haida Nation - Raven Clan - and Lightbown called for and received unanimous support for two resolutions:

1) Deadly military force never be the final option to resolve these human rights issues

2) An international impartial UN mediator independent of the issues be appointed

According to the Vancouver Sun Sep 12 p. A2, "what came out of the conference was some tough talk and a warning of possible further violence from Upper Nicola band chief Scotty Holmes. Holmes insisted the conference wanted to see a peaceful solution, but contrary to what the provincial government believed, 'the people at Gustafsen Lake do have our support. God, if someone came to your house with weapons, would you stand there with your finger up your ass? No goddamn way! You'd shoot back. We're not advocating violence. No way. That's the last of our options. But let's not forget, if you're forced by aggression, there's no way you can stand by and watch it. Our people have been patient for a long, long time."

According to CBC TV news (Monday 6 pm), "earlier today before the gunfire at Gustafsen the natives there received a boost of support at an emergency meeting of chiefs from around the province. They got together in Merritt to encourage a peaceful settlement. But in an unexpected move the chiefs threw their support behind the militants - and are now calling for a U.N. mediator to be brought in to settle the dispute...their crisis bulletin offered unanimous support."

Saul Terry: British Columbia remains unceded lands - which needs to be resolved between Canada and our Indian Nations. This has not been done and there's been all kinds of avoidance, denial and manipulation.

Bill Lightbown: It's support for those people and it's also a demand - that the police back off and let the proper resolution process take place so that everybody can live. We're just as concerned about those RCMP people as well as people in the camp. We don't want anyone murdered and it's absolutely unnecessary for anyone to die.

"The native leaders said they will continue to meet across the province to show support for those involved in the standoff and try and find a peaceful solution." - Alan Edwards, CBC News, Merritt

No mention was made by the assembly, however, "of the rebels' core demands - that the Queen and British Privy Council review the traditionalists' claim to the site because they don't recognize the jurisdiction of Canadian governments and courts." (Victoria Times-Colonist, Sep 12, A1)

At 2:00 PM PST Monday, as a negotiating committee from the Shuswap Liaison Group approached the RCMP's final checkpoint into the camp (approx. 2-3 km from the camp), a red pick-up truck from the camp proceeded to meet the delegation. According to Gordon Sebastian, one of the liaison team: "the RCMP were well aware that these people come out of the camp, come up to the road and await the arrival of the delegation." (Canadian Press, Sep 12)

The Defenders' red vehicle then apparently "drove over an 'Early Warning Device' police had put on a logging road", RCMP Sgt. Peter Montague said (Cdn Press). Police confirmed this device was an explosive, i.e. a land mine.

According to Montague, "yesterday the occupants had been advised to stay within a confined area and that area was well described to them. The RCMP had tightened their security net, and they were well aware of that." (Vancouver Sun, Sept 12)

We think it highly unlikely that the Defenders would have knowingly driven over a land mine!

But it is known that complaints and requests concerning lack of access to firewood and water were made by the camp and were to be the subject of discussions with the Shuswap Liaison Team.

According to Gordon Sebastian, native liaison member: "'when the Shuswap elders reached the meeting point, no-one was there'. Shortly after, 'there was a large discharge and we felt the wind on our faces and clothes,' Sebastian said. 'And then there was small calibre fire - about 11 or 12 shots.' At 2:15 PM PST the liaison group heard 'at the most 60 rounds...'" (Vancouver Sun) Sebastian disputed RCMP estimates of thousands of rounds being fired.

According to RCMP, a firefight with a Bison heavy armored vehicle ensued. This vehicle suffered "mechanical difficulties" as a result of (return) fire from the red truck's occupants, three of whom were reportedly shot.

According to the Vancouver Sun, "after the gunfight...RCMP contacted the camp and spoke to Jonesy Ignace who goes by the name of Wolverine. Ignace told the RCMP that 3 people were injured, including an unarmed woman. 'You murdered one of our women, you bastards.'" (The woman is reportedly wounded in the arm and has refused to leave the camp.)

"Later Percy Rosette, Shuswap Faithkeeper and Pipe Carrier - one of the spiritual leaders in the camp - accused police of 'double-crossing' the campers. 'Everything went wrong with your people. It was a bomb,' he said. 'You people started firing first again. Your people sent bombs.' He said no-one would come out because they believed people would kill them." (Vancouver Sun, Sept 12)

As of Sept 10, the RCMP's public position was that:

* The talks are proceeding well and the RCMP is still cautiously optimistic with respect to a peaceful conclusion of this situation.

* As a result of the talks this morning, the delegation has again been permitted access to the armed camp to pursue their dialogue with the occupants. (from media release, RCMP Public Relations, Sept 10 12:30 pm)

At 6:00 PM with various reports unconfirmed of death and/or injuries, the RCMP's previous declaration of support and optimism regarding native mediation had suddenly and dramatically changed. "'There's a criminal agenda which is continually being advanced by the criminal element in that community,' [Montague] said of the rebel campers...'They have usurped any legitimate goal and objectives of the local people with their own self-serving criminal agenda.'" (Vancouver Province, Sep 12)

According to the native mediation team, composed of Jeanette Armstrong, Don Ryan (Gitksan negotiator, BC Treaty Commission) and others, the RCMP's public posturing about a peaceful solution is contradicted by all the RCMP's actions.

Penticton Indian Act Band Councillor Stewart Philip said, "The RCMP are preventing the public from learning what's really going on inside the camp by keeping the media far away from site...They're able to carry on their own agenda and present to the public what they feel will find acceptable. By isolating the camp, there's no way of confirming or refuting it." (Vancouver Sun)

According to Philip, Montague's vicious tirade of demonization against the Sundance Defenders was "unglued": "He seemed to be really nervous. He didn't seem sure of what he was saying. I kind of get the impression they messed up big-time and the whole thing was going to blow up in his face." The RCMP "just want to go in there and bash heads in," said Don Ryan. "They're all set to kill people." (Vancouver Sun)

BC Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh responded by saying "the police have conducted themselves admirably...obviously the chances of a peaceful solution are dimming day by day....They are bent upon coming out of that camp in body bags." (Vancouver Sun)

At approx. 10:30 PM PST Monday, UTV News (Vancouver) reported that 2 male native youths had been escorted out of the camp by a native liaison member - these youths were handcuffed and taken to the 100 Mile House RCMP Detachment, where they were to be taken before a magistrate today.

There is still an unconfirmed report that one individual - possibly wounded - is missing.

Lost in the shuffle is the Defenders' impregnable legal position which renders all non-native jurisdiction on unceded sovereign territories demonstrably fraudulent, treasonable and genocidal. In the Supreme Court of Canada today, Chief Justice Antonio Lamer insulted Defenders' counsel Dr. Bruce Clark as "a disgrace to the bar" (CBC TV Newsworld, 10 am) and refused to grant an injunction restraining RCMP actions, pending a ruling on the Shuswap's unextinguished, unsurrendered, constitutionally protected sovereignty and jurisdiction.

According to one source, 10 Bison armored vehicles left the Canadian Forces Base at Comox, Vancouver Island, heading for Gustafsen Lake. RCMP would neither confirm nor deny that reinforcements were being considered, including armed forces personnel and/or vehicles.

The vicious tone of Montague's press statement suggests that once again an invasion is impending.

Once again we are totally dependent upon RCMP spokespeople as to what happens behind their steadily tightening "ring of fire". Media continues to report RCMP statements as fact.

In conclusion, Canada is acting like the murderous settler state it is - international outrage and public condemnation of this reign of terror towards sovereign indigenous nations by federal/provincial fascistic regimes and their police must bring this offensive to an end before more Dudley Georges are murdered by Canadian colonialism.

Let us come together in solidarity, resistance and
HONOUR: Healing Our Nations Of United Resistance.

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