Tla’amin band members barricade Salish Centre
by Laura Walz, Powell River Peak, Saturday, June 16, 2012
About a dozen Tla’amin (Sliammon) First Nation members have blocked the Salish Centre, where a treaty vote was set to take place today.
The protestors have placed vehicles in front of the doors, preventing anyone from going into the building.
They have released a three-page statement to the Peak, which states that they are there to take a stand against the treaty process. “This process has had a very negative effect on the Sliammon people and more questions continue to arise,” it states.
“We feel that there has not been full disclosure as to what the Sliammon people stand to lose if the treaty is implemented. We stand for our future generations, we stand for our ancestors and we stand for this land that was never surrendered.”
RCMP officers were on site, as were Tla’amin Chief Clint Williams, Tla’amin chief negotiator Roy Francis, members of the treaty ratification team and the chief electoral officer, Fred Schiffner.
The Tla’amin poll was supposed to be open from 10 am to 8 pm. Polls have already taken place in Vancouver, Victoria and Tacoma, Washington.
Kevin Blaney, one of the protestors, told the Peak the blockade aimed to stop the voting process. “Want we want to do is to have some of these areas of great concern researched so we can find out exactly what is going on with respect to some of these areas,” he said.
Blaney said his biggest concern is with the division the process has created in the community. “It has divided this community in a way that I think there’s going to be a great deal of time before that healing begins, where people can come back to the circle and start to talk about what the issues really are, what they have been for a long, long time,” he said.
Tracy Timothy, another protestor and a former band councillor who had been involved in negotiations, said terms of the treaty had been dictated by the federal and provincial governments. For example, Timothy said, there was a proposal by Tla’amin for resource revenue sharing. “It was all voted down,” he said. “Everything was no.”
Another concern he has is aboriginal rights and title, Timothy said. “They have my aboriginal right on the table. That’s my right. You can’t sell my right. It’s mine. They’re negotiating my aboriginal right away.”
Sandy Point, another protestor, said he had no trust in Tla’amin negotiators. “We’re not ready. We need more qualified people to be sitting at the table with lawyers and negotiators.”
Sherry Bullock, another protestor, said she was the mother of 10 children who were Tla’amin band members. “I’m standing here for them,” she said. “My concern is that treaty is a termination of anything that is going to be left for our children in the future.”
She also said she was concerned with “illegal votes and illegal enrollment. It’s not fair. People are being paid to vote yes.”
Tla’amin, federal and provincial government officials are discussing the blockade and are expected to put a release in a short while.
Statement from Sliammon anti-treaty group:
From the Concerned Members of the Sliammon First Nation
We are here today to take a stand against the treaty process. This process has had a very negative effect on the Sliammon people and more questions continue to arise.
We feel that there has not been full disclosure as to what the Sliammon people stand to
lose if the treaty is implemented. We stand for our future generations, we stand for our
ancestors and we stand for this land that is was never surrendered.
The enrolment process is flawed. From the very start the enrolment process violated our constitutional rights as Canadian citizens. We were told that if we did not enrol, we could not vote and therefore would have no say in the treaty process. Furthermore if the treaty should pass, the many band buildings and services that were meant for our forefathers, our children, grandchildren, the Sliammon people, would not serve us. Many of the Sliammon people enrolled under DURESS. This is not constitutional and in effect makes moot the very foundation of democracy.
On February 8/1999, Chief and Council of the Sliammon First Nation passed a motion
that should have effectively eliminated many people from transferring to Sliammon.
Transferring should only be done if the person requesting has blood ties to the Sliammon band and can somehow prove it.
Chief Denise Smith in February 1999 advised that Sliammon had a few people that would like to transfer to Sliammon Band. Chief and council decided to follow treaty policy and accept only those who have blood ties to Sliammon.
To the contrary, recently there has been a large influx of people signing up to Sliammon to vote on our treaty. A noticeable amount of these people have no actual blood ties to Sliammon. This is a direct violation of the Band Council resolution passed in February 1999.
As it currently stands, there is NO MEMBERSHIP code at the Sliammon Treaty society.
Recently it has come to our attention that electoral procedures have not been followed in
Tacoma. Voters there were not asked to (but are required to) provide identification.
Electoral procedure is paramount, as the dignity and legitimacy of a nation’s governance hangs in the balance. Following electoral procedure to the most minute of details ensures that the decisions of the people are upheld. To stray, even from the most seemingly miniscule detail jeopardizes and illegitimates the entire democratic process. Thus democracy ceases to be democracy and becomes fixed. This effectively changes the quantitative results, which in effect changes the outcome. Procedure is in place for a reason.
We were also informed that people that may have switched or were born into other bands, regardless of their ties to Sliammon were not eligible to vote in any elections in
Sliammon. Several children raised in Sliammon have become adults and have strong
familial ties to Sliammon but belong to another band.
When the question was posed as to whether or not these people with ancestry in
Sliammon can vote in our election, the response was swift “One cannot benefit from the policies of two bands.”
It has come to our attention that people in Tacoma Washington have voted recently at a pole held in Washington. A woman from Sliammon recognized several of her family
members there and they were voting under aliases. Many are enrolled in bands in United States and have also managed to vote on our treaty under various other aliases.
The double standard is also being enacted now. Many people are appearing on the
Treaty’s voter list that have NO blood ties to Sliammon. Rather they are employees,
spouses and good friends of people in the Sliammon band membership. This again is in
violation of the February 9/1999 Band Council Resolution.
To further complicate things, NON band members, people that have no status and are not registered by the Department of Indian Affairs or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
(INAC). The Sliammon Treaty Society has allowed NON band members to vote on such
an important election in the lives and history of the Sliammon people is inherently wrong.
Many have been estranged from Sliammon and have little concern or knowledge about
what is at stake for the Sliammon people other than the biased, vested opinions of the
Sliammon Treaty Society.
With the recent defeat of the Sliammon Treaty society’s Agreement in Principle which
was voted down by 2% in 2001, We believe the Sliammon Treaty Society have taken
steps to ensure the success of the Final Agreement, set to be voted on June 16/2012.
People can also enrol until 7:55pm on June 16th/2012. The official Sliammon Treaty
Voters list is supposed to be available to the public. We question how soon the Voters list will be available to the public to view?
We also question how long a window we have to file appeals after the final vote. I also
assume that there would be a long window of opportunity to appeal voters as the
enrolment is allowed to continue so late.
Sliammon treaty society is supposed to be administered through Sliammon band (Chief
and Council). The treaty constitution by laws have not been made available to band
members at annual general meetings, on website or in hardcopy form when requested.
The Sliammon Treaty society is operating ILLEGALLY.
The failures and trials of the Sliammon band are no secret. Sliammon has dealt with
remedial management since 2011. This was implemented, as the Sliammon band was in debt to the tune of nearly 4 million dollars. The passing of a treaty is not only illogical, but dangerous to the Nation as Sliammon signs off sovereignty.
Our fishing rights, rights that we currently have, have not been settled. We currently have
no water rights, no fishing rights and this is permanent. If a right is not outlined in our
Treaty it is not right. This final document is unchanging, un-evolving. This means that as
legal precedent’s give further rights to other Canadians, the Sliammon people are bound
to a piece of unchanging government oppression. This is not only dangerous, it is
Though letters of appeal have been sent out, we feel that we cannot wait for our fate to
be decided. We have decided to take a stand for our ancestors, ourselves and the future generations of Sliammon.
We demand a FORENSIC AUDIT OF THE STATUS CARDS AND MEMBERSHIP
For the safety and dignity of the Sliammon nation and upholding of proper electoral
practice, the cornerstone of democracy. For the voiceless.