Update on the Skwelkwek’welt defenders

Posted by admin on Sep 1st, 2004

September 1, 2004

Thank you to all those who supported the Convergence this weekend. Please read on to find out how you can help continue the struggle. Now that the Skwelkwek’welt defenders are building yet another permanent structure off-reserve on traditional Secwepemc territories (adjacent to Sun Peaks golf course) as an assertion of their inherent and legal Aborginal Title, it is imperative that we continue to support this crucial struggle.

On August 29, shortly after the 250-strong protestors left, the provincial government served a Trespass Notice on the Skwelkwek’welt Protection Center. The Trespass Notice articulates the position that the construction of a permanent monitoring center on unoccupied Crown Land adjacent to Sun Peaks’ expansion is a violation of the BC Land Act. Janice Billy has said “it is business-as-usual for the province and Sun Peaks. They are both treating Aboriginal Title as if it does not even exist. The BC Land Act is outdated because even the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized Aboriginal Title in all of unceded lands, including Sun Peaks.”

At present, the community continues to remain at the building site and the RCMP have been monitoring the Skwelkwek’welt camp and have not yet acted to enforce the Tresspass Notice. According to Arthur Manuel, “I think they are hesistant to move on their Trespass notice because of the legal soundness of our argument, in light of the Haida Decision. They are looking for something like a fight or army clothing or something that they used in the past to justify not having to deal with the constitutional aspect of the Trespass Notice.”

The position of no more expansion is very clear. The courage of the defenders in physically establishing themselves on traditional territories despite all odds – police, government and corporate harrasment, and risk of arrest – continue to inspire us.

You can support the struggle in the following ways (more details below):
1. Go up to Skwelkwek’welt
2. Donate supplies and money
3. Letter Campaign

Go to Skwelkwek’welt

The traditional Secwepemc peoples invite supporters to come to Skwelkwek’welt to support their work to assert aboriginal title in their traditional territories. There is some billeting available, but the community is especially looking for people to stay at the building site which is on Crown land at Sun Peaks Resort about half-an-hour from Kamloops.  They are also looking for people with driver’s licences and/or cars, computer skills, building skills, human rights experience, legal experience, people with video cameras, and people to act as witnesses.  Please contact the Skwelkwek’welt defenders before you come: Janice Billy, Skwelkwek’welt Protection Center, 250-318-4290

Driving directions to Sun Peaks:

1. Take TransCanada Hwy 1 East to Hope (approx. 150km)
2. In Hope, switch to BC Hwy 5 going North (Coquihalla Highway) to Kamloops (you will pass through Merritt on the way – about 160km to Kamloops)
3. At Kamloops continue on Highway 5 (Yellowhead Hwy.) north to Heffley Creek (approx.20km). Look for a junction with a Sun Peaks Resort sign and a sign that says ‘Old Highway 5’
4. Turn right onto Old Highway 5 and then soon turn left on Tod Mountain Rd. (may be Sun Peaks Rd.) – there is a sign for Sun Peaks Resort and an arrow pointing up the hill
5. Follow this all the way to Sun Peaks Resort. This is approx. 35km – on the way it becomes an unnamed road, so don’t panic – you’re going the right way.

Greyhound Bus:

If you book three days ahead, there is a two for one deal, where another person costs $15. Check www.greyhound.ca for fares and schedules** Contact Janice Billy at 250-318-4250, they maybe able to arrange pick-up.
You can take a Greyhound bus either to:

Kamloops (closer to Sun Peaks)
Adult one-way $55.80, student $50.24
Bus leaves Vancouver six times a day

Chase (closer to the Neskonlith reserve)
Adult one-way $59.65, student $53.71
Bus leaves Vancouver three times a day

Donations for Skwelkwekwelt Defenders

The Skwelkwek’welt defenders are in need of donations in the form of food, tarps, rope, camping gear, video tapes, batteries, and money for photocopying, legal defense, supplies, gas etc.  If you can donate gear or supplies or if you are planning to drive up to Sun Peaks and can transport goods, please call 778-552-2099 or email noii-van@resist.ca.

If you can donate money, please send a cheque to “Land, Freedom & Decolonization Coalition” to the following address: No One is Illegal, c/o Palestine Community Center, 1874 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC Canada, V5N 2S7. Please indicate “Skwelkwek’welt Defense Fund” in the memo line of the cheque. Please also let us know if you’re sending money by calling at 778-552-2099 or email at noii-van@resist.ca. If you prefer to donate by cash, please let us know.

Skwelkwekwelt Letter Campaign

We must maintain pressure on all those involved in the expansion of Sun Peaks. Please see below for sample letter.

The Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier
Government of British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8W 9E1
Fax: (250) 387-0087
Email: premier@gov.bc.ca
Phone: 250-387-1715

Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection
Honourable Bill Barisoff
PO Box 9047 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC
V8W 9E2
Telephone: 250 387-1187
Fax: 250 387-1356
E-mail: WLAP.Minister@gems9.gov.bc.ca

Minister of State for Resort Development
Sandy Santori
PO Box Stn Provincial Government
Victoria, BC
V8W 9E2
tel#: 250-953-4246
fax#: 250-953-4250
Email: Sandy.Santori.MLA@leg.bc.ca

Darcy Alexander
Vice President, General Manager
Sun Peaks Resort
1280 Alpine Rd.
Sun Peaks, BC
V0E 1Z1
tel#: 250-578-7222
fax#: 250-578-7223
email: marketing@sunpeaksresort.com

Hon Andy Scott
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs
tel: 613-992-1067
fax: 613-996-995


I am writing in support of the Skwelkwek’welt Protection Center that has been protecting Secwepemc lands and culture that is being destroyed by Sun Peaks Resort.

It is clear that despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized Aboriginal Title, and that the Canadian Constitution of 1982 protects Aboriginal Title as an Aboriginal Right yet your political decision has been to extinguish Aboriginal Title. The recent Haida decision added a legal duty government and industry to consult and accommodate Aboriginal Title even before it has been proved. It is clear that the recent endorsement by Canada and British Columbia of the $285 million dollar expansion of Sun Peaks is a deliberate and clear effort to extinguish Aboriginal Title.

Negotiations under the present extinguishment policy and process is failing (those negotiations have only been a benefit to those negotiators who get a pay check from those funds for the last 10 years); that the injunctions are not necessarily always conducive in balancing the interests between business and Aboriginal Rights; and that full blown court decision takes 10 to 14 years; and all of these remedies put Secwepemc people at a decided disadvantage when dealing with the governments that are committed to an out dated status quo of marginalizing indigenous economic and cultural rights.

I reiterate the position of the Skwelkwek’welt Protection Center that wants the expansion of Sun Peaks stopped and demand a new federal policy that recognizes Aboriginal Title in line with the legal mandate to consult and accommodate Aboriginal Title.

Yours sincerely,

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