Source of Resistance #3: Round Table Discussion


Summer 1997



Excerpts from a forum which appeared January 1997 on 'Nitewatch', a local cable program hosted by Patrice Leslice.

   Bill Lightbown, a Kootenay Elder
   Shelagh Franklin, Gustafsen Lake Defendant
   John "Splitting the Sky" Hill aka Doc, coordinator for
      the campaign to free Wolverine
   Flo Sampson, Shuswap Elder and Gustafsen Lake Defendant

Patrice Leslice: Good evening and welcome to Nitewatch. Tonight you're going to have to go back in history and try and remember some events at Gustafsen Lake. In the press everyday for weeks we heard about the events up at Gustafsen Lake. In the past few months there's been a trial going on and we've barely heard a peep. So on tonight's show we're going to talk about that and what's going on in court... I wanted to start by talking to you, Flo. I guess I wanted you to tell me when you first came to the camp, and why you decided to participate and what happened at Gustafsen Lake.

Flo: I went to Gustafsen Lake on August 22 [1995]. I went there to support our people that were being threaten by the RCMP or military, whoever they were in the bushes. I went up there to support them and to stand on the jurisdiction.

Patrice: When you first went up there, did you have any idea that it would end up being the way it was, end up with gun fire, end up with a military type situation?

Flo: No, I didn't think it would end up that way. Until some people from Alberta were going out and they were the first ones to be stopped and searched by the RCMP. Then after that it was every car that was going in or going out was being searched and that's when it started. Right after the 22nd.

Patrice: It's hard for me to imagine being in that situation and I want you to sort of talk a bit about what it was like for you to be, to have gun fire, to just to be in that situation.

Flo: Well, at first I didn't realize what was going on the outside as we were being barricaded in. I didn't realize there was that many RCMP and military out there. But while we were up there we didn't have no fear. I didn't have no fear. We had our ceremonies, we prayed to the creator to keep us safe and you know our spirituality is one that really kept us going. We became like a big family out there. Everyone had something to do, there was our ceremonies, our singers, our cooks, and people that made the wood and people that got the water, and stuff like that we all did something to keep ourselves busy we had our ups and downs and like we all talked together as a family.


Patrice: At the time of the confrontation there was lots of media attention... but now we haven't heard a peep from the media, why do you think that is?

Doc: I want to say that from the onset here that there's a very strong reason why we're not hearing anything out of the media right now. I'll just make it very clear and very blunt, as a I usually do, and that has to do with the fact that...on the one hand while the RCMP with their one sided reporting after they closed down the camp feeding the media all the information that they wanted the press to believe and the press reporting as fact, never stating alleged shots or alleged anything, but reporting as fact that incidents occurred that the RCMP, with the one-sided reporting, reported to them in the press briefings. I believe personally that the press for the very most part helped manufacture consent for what was nothing less than operational plans designed to kill the people inside of Gustafsen Lake.


Patrice: I think most of us and most of the public were under the impression that the rancher, Lyle James, was the owner of the land. Does somebody what to take that on? Are we finding that's the case in court?


Shelagh: With respect to the land dispute I think what is at issue here ... is British Columbia or the crown has fraudulently sold the land to Lyle James... 95% or the majority of British Columbia, what's known as British Columbia is unceded, untreatied Indian land. In law the settlement of the newcomers or the colonies on land without the consent of the people is illegal. It's fraudulent, they just opened up the books and started to give land away. They never had the consent of the people and that's where the problem lies. The people know that, today they say, "we never gave you permission to be here, we never sold the land to you, we never lost the land in a war." Modern day treaties are trying to reverse that or are trying to legitimize the presence of the colonist or the presence of British Colombians on Indian land, on Shushwap land. That's the way that we as immigrants to this country legitimize our presence on Indian land is through treaties and there are no treaties here.


Bill: I might also add that in regards to that process [the treaty process] that it has to be by full consent of the members of that Nation. The reason I am referring to that is because they've got a fraudulent process going on right now in this province that they refer to as a treaty making process which is in fact not a treaty making process. It is a land claim process and it's certainly isn't involving the majority of the members of each of the Nations. It's a fraudulent process not only from the position of the crown but from the position of some of the chiefs who are in fact sitting down and making decisions for their people without really involving them in a knowledgeable way, as to the decisions that they're making and the signing of agreements to that affect.

Patrice: My understanding is that on September 10 there was a negotiated safe zone, a no-fire zone. Can you talk a bit about that?

Bill: I'll talk a bit about the safe zone. First of all, there are two things here and I am going to raise them both at the same time because they are interlocking in a sense. First, is what I refer to as the eye in the sky. People should understand that the whole process, everything that happened in that camp and around that camp, was under camera surveillance 24 hours a day, from some time mid-august to the completion of that whole attack on those people in the camp. Now that must be clear. The other thing that has to be clear in people's minds is that the RCMP agreed to what they referred to as a no-shoot zone, and they not only put that in writing and sent it into the camp in letter form, but they also accompanied that letter with a map clearly outlining the no shoot zone. Now, it has to be clear to everyone that is listening that it was established and it was clearly understood by way of the letter, that as long as the people inside stayed within their boundary that they would not shot at, attacked or any of those other kinds of things. And that the RCMP would stay outside of those boundaries that were established as well. And that was referred to as the no-shoot zone.

Patrice: And I believe there was a road where people could get water and food.

Bill: That was in the no-shoot zone.


Doc: ... The eye in the sky shows that they [the RCMP] were lying out of their teeth when they took the stand, the various RCMP and squad members that came to testify. And those major ones [lies] that we are highlighting today would be: the truth about the blowing up of the truck and the shooting at the occupants; and the shooting at the Native man walking along side of the lake on September the 12th. Here Kimball gives it very clearly in the testimony, he was one of the heads of the RCMP at the camp during the standoff, he makes it very clear that they understood that there was a no-shoot zone. [With] the people that were either blown up in the truck and shot at with hundreds and if not thousands of rounds and shot the next day. The government clearly knew that the RCMP was in violation of that cease fire. And this guy Kimball gave them the green light in the testimony, and the testimony is right here. That he was giving the green light to shoot to kill, knowing that they were violating their own cease-fire with the occupants inside the camp.

Patrice: I wanted to talk about the red truck because we do have the video and it's been presented in court. So what do we see when we're looking at this clip. [clip of defender's truck being blown up by the RCMP as recorded by the WESCAM video or 'eye in the sky']

Doc: ... What they [the RCMP] told us [the public] in the beginning, the official press report was Peter Montague [RCMP Public Relations officer] stated very clearly, that two occupants went out with a red truck outside of the perimeters of the cease-fire agreement, that they were spotted as being fully armed with guns. They were travelling down the road and they had to use the disabling device to stop the machine so they could arrest them. But when the occupants were stopped by the disabling device they jumped out of the car, they grabbed AK 47's and they started firing at the police. Dosanjh, the Attorney General of this province, without investigating the incident took that report and said on a press release that there were three occupants that jumped out of the car and started firing at the police. That was the justifications for 20,000 rounds of bullets that were fired strictly by the RCMP that day. And what you see in the film [Gustafsen Lake 95-09-11 Shooting #3 PO14 Police Videotape wescam], you see the truth. For one, the occupants did not have any guns in their hands, they were driving down the road, just after picking up the elders. They were trying to get water for the elders, this disabling device, which is really plastic explosives, which is nothing less than a very powerful land mine of itself. [The truck] runs over the land mind, hits the land mine, and you see the truck blown up. The whole front of the truck hood blown back and then you see the two occupants, miraculously thrown out by the impact of the explosion and they run and seek sanctuary by trying to swim across the lake. And then you see an APC [Armed Personnel Carrier] come right forward and ram the truck, which if they didn't kill those unarmed occupants the first time, they were going to kill them with the APC. Then you see a dog jump out of the back of the truck and then you see two sharp shooters along side, right side the long side of the road, blasting the dog and killing the dog. That is where the first shots went out that day on September 11th. Then you see two people going across the lake, in the eye in the sky they're swimming. And you see thousands of rounds being , hit on the water, looking like missiles. Then you see two people surrendering when they come out of the lake and you see the RCMP shooting at them before they tell them to put their hands up. One person gets shot. And it just follows a pattern of all the lies that were told to you the public. You, the public, were told many lies. You were told the lie about August 27 event, when two people [RCMP officers] were supposed to have been shot in the flack jackets. There was no testimony that says they were shot. There was the eye in the sky from August the 27th, which they never introduced into court because the incident never existed.

Patrice: I want you to talk about the APC's a bit, give an idea of what that is because it's hard to tell tank size, are we talking military here?

Shelagh: They are 13 tonne Armoured Personal Carriers. They look like tanks to me, they had at one point four of them very close to the camp firing thousands of rounds. They told the public that the people in the red truck who were on their way to pick up elders and pick up water. They told the public that the people in the truck were shooting at them, but in court we've had testimony that from six or seven different police officers, as well as military, that nobody was shooting at them. That it was them who were shooting at the people.

Doc: And that they were actually getting themselves caught up in the cross fire. Up to 20,000 rounds. The light moment about all this and I'm sure Flo can tell you, is that they were sort of laughing on the inside of the camp to a degree because while they were shooting all directions with 20,000 rounds going completely crazy with the gun fires they started that day everybody's sitting in the camp having coffee while their shooting at each other. I just want to make it clear because the only testimony that has come out against Jones Wolverine Ignace is that they say that he fired a shot at the tanks right after the they created the incident of September 11th. They said that there was a shot that hit the tank that one of the ERT members out of the tank yelled "Shoot. Eliminate the shooter." And they started chasing a 64-year old man with the APC that travels roughly 90 km a minute through the bush. They were trying to run down William Jones Ignace. And the only incident that links him to anything that would be considered a charge, the only thing that they said about him in court, is that while they were trying to run him down that he may have tried to disengage the tires... He was jumping in and out and that they were trying to kill the old man and the only thing that saved his life is that when he went into the woods that they hit a tree and disabled the steering device. That is what happened that day. They try and kill him and now he is the only person who has been in jail for 14 months for this which is nothing less then self-defence of the highest degree. But we're not going to try and convince the people here the public, the films themselves will show what happened.

Patrice: Here's another clip a man going to the lake I believe he's being shot at suddenly. Does somebody want to talk about that clip?

Shelagh: Sure. After September 11, there were many assurances of safety. Tthey continuously told us that if we stayed around the camp and they gave us a map that we would be safe. They told us that night that we would be safe and it was okay if we wanted to go down to the lake and wash up that was fine. In this clip you see somebody at about 8:30 in the morning walking down to the lake to wash up going down to shave. And people from across the lake took shots at him 3 or 4 shots hit the ground right between his legs and around where his feet are he hits the deck and he stays there probably for 45 minutes. We have radio logs. They think that they have hit him they are calling for an ambulance they think that they've killed him or injured him. And we have also had testimony saying that they believed he was on his way to stalk the RCMP and that the closest RCMP group that was in the bush somewhere camped out was two km away and so here he is walking towards what they know is a dock and they have seen us there to wash up and he is clearly headed towards that dock. In court they have testified saying he was in full camo gear and he was holding a gun in the port-at-arms position and he had face paint on and he was stalking. And that is what they were testifying in court. But these poor officers didn't realize that we had a video tape from the sky and it clearly shows that he's just sauntering down to the lake. He's wearing a bright pink shirt and black pants he's not carrying a gun.

Bill: In the middle of a wide open field.

Shelagh: Yeah, in a wide open field.

Doc: ... that RCMP officer marksmen [who shot at the man in the field] should be cited for attempted murder just as the marksman who gave the okay to blow up the truck should be cited for attempted murder... The people, you yourself, let the evidence show for itself, you be the judge and see if it isn't time for the people, you people who have been lied to, all of us who have been lied to: it is time for us to call for a citizens' inquiry. Instead of paying 50,000 dollars for a trial to cover up the truth of what happened at the lake and the jurisdictional arguments that they are trying to cover up. Why don't we put our moneys, as peoples, together and look for getting an inquiry as to what happened here because certainly the charge of genocide is not stated lightly here in this incident.

Patrice: Now, some people would say some of the public who hasn't seen this footage but just based on their information from the past might say while you know the camp had guns. It could be seen as a proper threat. A threat against people they had to act this way. What would you say?

Bill: I can't help but respond to that because, first of all, just about everybody in that region has a gun, whether they were aboriginal people or whether they were non-aboriginal people... As a matter of fact most of British Columbia, rural British Columbia, is like that, anyway once you get away from the cities, everybody has guns . And nobody ever thinks anything about it. Now that's for starters. Yes, there were some guns in there. There were some hunting rifles and yes there had been some hunting going on. As a matter of fact, they did have some game in that camp and that came from their hunting prior to the RCMP closing in on them. But I think its time maybe that the public begins to understand and realize what is really going down here because the whole thing was very well planned by whoever gives direction to the RCMP and I don't know who that is yet because it hasn't come out in testimony in the court yet who those individuals or that individual is that gave direction to the RCMP. But it was a planned project, and in fact the whole thing went to back when it started in February, and was put into play in starting in July and it came to a head right near the end of August. And it went according to RCMP schedule and at some point we'll be able to bring that proof forward, once it has been put to the jury and they have seen and heard that testimony, then it will be made available to the public and they will know then at that point what has really been going on.

Doc: ... This court has done everything in its power to keep Shelagh who is acting as her own attorney and Jones Ignace from putting the rule of law to court. We want an answer to the rule of law. We want to put in the law so there can be a ruling on it, at least in some form of the jurisdiction arguments that we stood on from the very beginning. This court does not want to address it...

Patrice: I just wanted to ask you Flo cause I don't know if any one ever mentioned this but Wolverine is your husband. How has it been, the fact that he's been in jail all this time, what is that like for you?

Flo: It's really emotional seeing my friend and my husband there everyday and to go home to an empty house without him. It's hard to see my son suffering for something that he never did.

Patrice: We are just coming to a close and I have to say from just looking at the clips that if I hadn't known it was Canada, I would probably think it was somewhere else. What do you think this court case is saying about our country?

Bill: You know as a matter of fact this is a wake up call for all citizens of Canada. I think that we live in what could be, and should be, the greatest in the world and a country that has been based upon respect for each other, now of course that respect was never extended to aboriginal peoples, but that is something we've lived and struggled with through our history of our involvement with Canada and the Canadian society. But the point is that other people should be concerned with what is going on. If a government can make decisions to annihilate certain members of the population and to create an excuse able to do that then I think it's time that every citizen in this country stood up and paid attention to what's going down here. They have to begin to ask themselves the question, why is this happening, why did that happen, how is it possible in this the greatest country in the world that the authorities in the country over 400 armed policemen as well as a bunch of people from armed forces surrounding a group of 18 people. In the camp and now we know who those people are. In fact they're spiritual people, they were not warriors, they were spiritual people who were standing on what they knew were their rights. How can this country possibly accept that and live with that? That this horrible large force who have been brought to bear upon that small group and open up and shoot in excess of 20,000 rounds in an hour and three-quarters at the signal of blowing up that truck... The citizens of this country have to know that its probably the greatest cover-up that has ever taken place in Canada and they must then at this point insist upon inquiry, a full public inquiry.

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