Report: Action against Sun Peaks Resort

Posted by admin on Oct 22nd, 2005

On Saturday, October 22, No One is Illegal members in an unannounced action went to the Vancouver Snow Show to protest the occupation of Sun Peaks Ski resort on Secwepemc territories, land which has never been ceded, released, nor surrendered.

Sun peaks resort is located near Kamloops, British Columbia and is owned by Nippon Cable. Despite the fact that the United Nations has repeatedly condemned Canada for violating International Human Rights of Indigenous communities, Sun Peaks Ski Resort continues to abuse the rights of the Secwepemc people through the continuous expansion of its overpriced bed units and hotel chains such as Delta Hotels on the Secwepemc Territories.

Sun Peaks Resorts has forced the arrests of 54 Secwepemc Elders, youth and land-users. In the past four years five Aboriginal Protection Centers, two traditional cedar bark homes, a hunting cabin, two sacred sweat lodges, and one cordwood home (home to a young family) have all been bulldozed or burnt down.

Environmental activists have since echoed the concerns of the Secwepemc people noting the irreplaceable damage of the surrounding environment should this expansion be allowed to continue. The development of Sun Peaks Resort has led to the destruction of the vital mountain ecosystem through clear-cuts. Sun Peaks resort pollutes the water with weed-control chemicals for their golf course and with chemical and bacterial additives used to make artificial snow. Sun Peaks over-consumes water and energy to
make this artificial snow (it takes 1/3 the energy of a average town to run a medium ski area). Indigenous writer and activist, Arthur Manual states that “Our Elders and traditional land users know that the added burden these resort users would put on the land would totally destroy the land and make it unusable for traditional land purposes.” (Manuel, 2003, p. 324.)*

No One is Illegal members gathered outside and inside the Snow Show to vocalize their disgust with Sunpeaks blatant refusal to acknowledge the rights of the Secwepemc people and to encourage skiers, snowboarders and tourists alike to “BOYCOTT SUNPEAKS”. People were generally responsive towards the campaign offering both words of support for the Secwepemc defenders and disgust at the actions of Sunpeaks with hundreds of leaflets distributed. The action continued for several hours while Sunpeaks representatives and security photographed and harassed No One is Illegal members.

The next day, Elder Irene Billy and Ska7cis Manuel returned from Geneva where they delivered an independent indigenous submission on Canada’s human rights record. A number of indigenous nations: the Nuxalk Nation; the Secwepemc people who are defending Skwelkwek’welt against the expansion of Sun Peaks Ski Resort; the St’at’imc nation who is opposed to the construction of a ski resort at Sutikalh; and the Pilalt Nation who wants to protect fishing at Cheam and their sacred mountains; made it clear that they want to protect their territories and that they will not extinguish their land rights. Many of their members, including elders and youth, have been arrested for exercising their indigenous rights and protecting their territories. Elder Irene Billy herself had been arrested at Sun Peaks Ski Resort and said: “As indigenous peoples we have the right to decide what happens in our territories and no development can happen without our prior informed consent.”

For more information on Skwekwek’welt support

** Manuel, Art. (2003) Aboriginal Rights on the Ground: Making Section 35 Meaningful. Box of Treasures or Empty Box? Twenty Years of Section 35 Edited by Ardith Walken and Halie Bruce. Canada. Pp 314-342.

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