Support Indigenous Sovereignty!
Hi everybody, this is Garth from "Democracy Street", the APEC anti-activist group, and pacific region editor for the Student Activist paper (http://www.tao.ca/~dasn).
I was recently in Williams Lake, "BC", "Canada", where members the Tsilhqot'in Nation are blockading a major access road of Raven Lake and their surrounding, unceded territory where logging was (up until recently) operating, business as usual. A member of the Soda Creek Band took me up to the site and introduced me to some of the activists on the blockade.
The blockade itself consists of a large bright yellow logging front-end loader parked across the road, with logs and bright ribbons, as well as a fire pit and frame/tarp shelter and a "teepee skeleton". It is staffed 24 hours a day by a rotating crew. Logging trucks, police and all other vehicles have been turned away.
On Monday, in the blazing mid-afternoon sun, I spoke to "Willy", who told me that when the cops come, the activists just point down the highway, away from the barricade and say "just keep moving that way, this is our land - and the cops go". Willie and others at the barricade said that they had turned away dozens of logging trucks, effectively halting the illegal resource extraction on the stolen land.
There was a very chill atmosphere at the blockade and those present did not seem worried about threats of injunctions or police eviction. "We [the Tsilhqot'in Nation] never signed nothing", one blockader told me, "they got no jurisdiction. They got nothin' on us." In fact, I was told that "other bands are looking at setting up similar blockades" to halt illegal resource extraction from their lands.
The Tsilhqot'ins consider the land claims process to be "fraudulent and corrupt". They have also pointed to the failure of forestry interests to abide the "consultation and consent" stipulation in the Supreme Court's "Delgamuukw" decision, handed down last December.
As ever, justice is not something handed down our of the benevolence of powers on high. Laws and decisions, no matter how good they look on paper may remain powerless documents without pressure from below. This is evidenced in government's failure to act to enforce the Delgamuukw decision's stipulations, and in the case of BC, NDP, to continue on with allowing resource extraction without proper consultation.
With this blockade, the Tsilhqot'in National Government is putting Delgamuukw into effect on the ground. Earlier this year the Nation sent a letter to Chilcotin Forest Manager Gerry Grant (with copies to Glen Clark and Jean Chretian) putting the lot on notice that logging mandated by the province is no longer legally valid under the Supreme Court ruling.
The letter stated that the forestry interest must negotiate resource use in good faith with the Tsilhqot'in by the end of spring, or vacate the territory. Any further activity, the letter warned, will be "at your own professional and private peril." The letter concluded with the salutation: "looking forward to a radically revised relationship."
Seven months after the Supreme Court Ruling, logging has continued, business has continued as usual for the resource companies and the NDP - until the people erected barricades to stop the exploitation of their lands.
Messages of solidarity and donations (cash or in kind) should be sent to:
Anaham Indian Band, Tsilqot'in NationTell BC NDP Premier Glen Clark what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 168 Alexis Creek, via 'BC', 'Canada', VOL 1A0
Phone: (250) 394-4212
Fax: (250) 294-4275
Tsilhqot'in National Government
Ste. 102-383 Oliver St.
Williams Lake, BC, V2G 1M4, Canada
Phone: (250) 392-3918
Fax: (250) 398-5798
More information on Delgamuukw: http://kafka.uvic.ca/~vipirg/SISIS/clark/gitksan.html or http://www.tao.ca/~dasn/issue2/nym.html