Skwelkwekwelt update

Posted by admin on Sep 11th, 2004

September 11, 2004

The Skwelkwekwelt Protection Center, along with various support groups, held a rally at Sun Peaks on August 29 to protest the on-going expansion of the Sun Peaks Ski Resort. On the same day, Secwepemc members began construction of what was to be a permanent structure. This structure was to:

* monitor environmental damage at Skwelkwekwelt
* inform visitors and investors of the on-going unsettled land issue in the area
* assert and exercise our Secwepemc Title and Rights to our unceded lands by occupying our lands
* educate our people, our guest, the public, and the courts of laws we stand on and the legal right to live on our lands
* restore Secwepemc culture and language to our people (as taught by our traditional Elders)

When we began the occupation of our lands, we were immediately attacked by the Sun Peaks Ski Resort Corporation, bc government officials (acting under the illegal BC Land Act), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the court system, and certain Shuswap chiefs.

Below is a chronology of events to date:

August 28
Press release issued by Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, with the support of at least 5 chiefs that condemns the rally and the invitation to Chief Stewart Phillip to attend.

August 29
Rally of approximately 300 people at Sun Peaks arriving from Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Montreal etc. Began construction of our building in order to exercise our Aboriginal Rghts.

Secwepemc issued a Trepass Notice on land where building is constructed (on unsurveyed Crown land – on the edge of the 16th fairway of the golf course of Sun Peaks resort). The notice informs the people to leave by 8:00 p.m. but no one leaves the site. The RCMP do not return that night to enforce the order.

September 1
Members of the Secwepemculecw Traditional Peoples Government attend the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council meeting to clarify which bands are involved in the issuance of the press release dated August 29. It was confirmed that 5 bands supported the press release – Adams Lake, Little Shuswap, Kamloops, Whispering Pines and North Thompson. 3 bands said they were unaware of or did not approve the press release – Neskonlith, Bonaparte, and Speltsin.

After much discussion it was agreed to hold a meeting on September 16 to discuss the Skwelkwekwelt issue further. The meeting to take place at Skwelkwekwelt camp.

September 2
An application to seek a court injunction, sought by Sun Peaks, is granted.

September 3
The court injunction hearing is held in Vancouver Supreme Court. Arthur Manuel, Arnie Jack, and Janice Billy act as their own legal counsel.

Judge Satanove grants the injunction and enforcement order to remove Secwepemc from their lands at Skwelkwekwelt.

The press release issued by the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council is heavily relied upon the Crown lawyer, Sun Peaks lawyer, and Judge Satanove in her decision to attempt to prove that the Skwelkwek’welt Protection Center defenders are an isolated group of people that are not supported by others in the community.

The scope of the injunction is far reaching:

1) It applies to the entire Base Area of Sun Peaks (including the Sun Peaks village, all the way to McGillvary Lake). This includes all the area upon which recent development is occuring. This area is approximately 8000 metres x 2000 metres.

2) This injunction, compared to previous court injunctions, extends for an indefinite period of time.

3) It applies to “persons unknown”, which means that any supporters at the camp or in the area whom a police or peace officer has “reasonable grounds is contravening this Order” will be read the injunction and then face arrest.

4) The injunction includes within it an enforcement provision, rare in cases of injunctions, so the RCMP has the authority to arrest.

September 7
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issue enforcement order to Secwepemc and their supporters at our Protection Center. No one leaves the site.

A letter is hand-delivered to Minister of Indian Affairs, Andy Scott, and Federal Cabinet meeting in Kelowna by Chief Mike Retasket which requests the Canadian government to intervene in the Skwelkwekwelt issue and honour Aboriginal Title, an inherent and legal right, that is set forth since the Royal Proclamation and reaffirmed in recent court decisions of Delgamuukw and Haida.

September 8
A RCMP member visits the Protection Center and threatens to take down the structure if no one else does.

September 9
Arthur Manuel and Janice Billy call Inspector Randy Wilson to inform him of their concerns re: RCMP behavior toward the people. Mr. Manuel and Ms. Billy inform him of their extreme concern regarding past violent actions of the RCMP on their people. An agreement is made which allows for Mr. Manuel and Ms.Billy to be contacted before the RCMP makes any moves upon the camp.

Another Tresspass Notice is issued for the Protection Center (camp #2) on the west side of Sun Peaks ski resort. The notice says to remove the center by 5:00 p.m. September 9.

September 10
Two RCMP officers (Terry Grimm and Kelly Auld) arrive at the Protection Center to ask when the people will be leaving. They are informed of the agreement between Inspector Randy Wilson and Arthur Manuel and that all communications will take place between these two parties.

Contact information:

Secwepemculecw Traditional Peoples Government
Box 837
Chase, B. C. V0E 1M0
e mail or
Janice Billy 250-318-4290
Arnie Jack 250-320-7822
Art Manuel 250-319-0068

Land, Freedom, Decolonization Coalition (Vancouver)
778 552 2099

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