Wolverine Speaks: Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake Inquiry, Genocide and Unceded Territories
Published by: Ts’Peten Defence Committee, January 27, 2016
In her first public appearance as Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of
Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Kwakwaka’wakw, publicly spoke to the letter I sent on
January 4th, 2016 to both her and the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau calling
for a National Inquiry into the Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake Standoff 1995. She was asked
three times by three women, to take action, to call this Inquiry and to address the
ongoing genocide that is taking place on our Territories. Her response, as the Federal
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was disrespectful and dismissive.
You all need a history lesson. Here it is.
The following is an open letter for all of you Canadians out there. My name is Wolverine.
I am an 83 year old father, grandfather, great grandfather and Secwepemc Elder. I am a
long time defender of the inherent jurisdiction and responsibility of Indigenous Peoples
to steward our Homelands, which have never been purchased or surrendered to
Canada, Britain or any other entity.
A little over 20 years ago, in 1995, after over a century’s worth of attempts to have
Secwepemc sovereignty respected, including visits to England and letters written to the
Federal government, the RCMP initiated a 31 day siege against my People as we took
a stand against the desecration and dispossession of our sacred Sundance Grounds at
Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake in so called British Columbia.
The 1995 Gustafsen Lake Standoff as it is known, if it is known, to you, was the largest
paramilitary assault in Canadian history. Over 450 RCMP and paramilitary officers,
armoured Personnel Carriers mounted with .50 calibre machine guns, land mines and
77,000 rounds of ammunition were deployed against us. The RCMP stated their
murderous intentions in national media during the siege, openly boasting about bringing
18 body bags for the 18 Defenders barricaded by the RCMP into the camp. One of the
defenders was 14 years old and pregnant at the time.
This is genocide. This is the genocide that began at contact and has not stopped since.
As we speak, our People are being harassed and murdered by various and violent
institutions of the state including the RCMP. Our People are being dispossessed of our
homelands, our Children stolen, our Women missing and murdered, our Men in prison,
our Cultural Practices outlawed and all of us entrapped in federally administered cycles
of addiction, dysfunction and poverty.
On January 4th, 2016, in counsel with the Allied Tribes, I wrote a letter to the Prime
Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and to the Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney
General, Jody Wilson-Raybould. Respectfully, I called on the Prime Minister of Canada
to honour his publicly stated intentions to renew the nation to nation relationship
between Canada and Indigenous Nations. I called on the Prime Minister and the
Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General to live up to their constitutional
obligations with respect to the Indigenous Tribes caught within its borders. I called for a
National Inquiry into the Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake Standoff so that we may finally bring
to bear, on the Federal government and on you, the public, the mounting weight of
these still unfulfilled constitutional obligations.
The Prime Minister and/or the Federal Minister of Justice/Attorney General have not
responded to my letter seeking to settle these issues, outstanding for over 150 years.
Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, in her first public appearance since
her election, when questioned by members of the Ts’Peten Defence Committee and
allies about the letter and the inquiry acknowledged me and the receipt of my letter and
went on to publicly state the inquiry is not a priority. That her government’s continued
genocidal contraventions of their very own constitutional obligations is not a priority.
Most disappointing was Ms. Wilson’s disrespectful redirection of our humble questions.
The ongoing murder and abduction of our Women must not be used to deflect the
seriousness of the questions we are asking as it is the very same issues we are
attempting to address in our questioning.
Let me be clear. Already, the actions or lack thereof of the new Prime Minister and the
Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General are in direct contravention of the moral
and legal obligations their respective stations require of them. I remind you that these
obligations are constitutional. Foundational to any jurisdiction, authority or legitimacy
Canada claims. The continued, flagrant and genocidal contraventions of Canada’s
constitutional obligations, enshrined six times in the history of North America*, is
shameful and criminal and must be addressed as such.
This is what I am saying now and this is what my ancestors have said since
Confederation. The federal and provincial governments have no legal basis for the
jurisdiction they assume in the Territories called Canada. This is especially evident, in so
called British Columbia. Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould
should know this, as an officer of the court, a law graduate and as an Indigenous
Woman herself. No treaty or purchase, no cede or surrender to the Crown ever
occurred in my Territory. This is a crucial point of law. How did Canada assume
jurisdiction on unceded and unsurrendered territories without treaty or purchase, the
only available legal basis’ for doing so? And let me tell you, just because they have
been assuming this jurisdiction since Confederation, doesn’t make it right and certainly
does not make it legal.
There is no justice on stolen land. There is no justice in the very same courts and
institutions that have, without the jurisdiction to do so, created the Indian Act, that have
legislated genocide, that have attempted to but have not and will not succeed in
destroying us. Canada is a failed nation. Canada is crumbling under the weight of its
own broken promises, constitutional violations and genocidal crimes.
Our Tribes are rising, are formally unifying in the stance of full sovereignty and
jurisdiction on our Territories. The Allied Tribes Declaration 2016, made in my
Homelands and with Tribes from the North, the South, the East and the West, is
evidence of this. The strong stance of defence and jurisdiction my People are taking to
stop the destruction of their Homelands, whether that destruction is pipelines, fracking,
logging, LNG terminals, fish farms, transport corridor expansions, mines, tar sands, or
any other resource extractive industry, is evidence of our strength, our rise, our unity
and what will soon be brought to bear on the jurisdiction, authority and legitimacy
Canada has been illegally assuming through violence, deception and coercion.
It is our Tribal Laws, held by the women, held sacred and defended, that are the laws,
that have always been the Law of this Land. It is for this purpose our Allied Tribes are
unifying, joining our home fires into one fire so that we may continue to assert Tribal
Law, our inherent jurisdiction on our Territories, with the unified strength and purpose,
power and pride of all of our Tribes.
As is our right, we are taking our own steps, under the auspices of Tribal Law, to seek
third party adjudication. No court or judicial body on these Territories has the jurisdiction
to address these very grave matters I have taken the time to write to you about here.
Now that you know, now that you will continue knowing, inaction is complicity. We will
not wait another 150 years for justice. We are the rightful stewards of our Territories and
we have not consented to any of this. You all have a responsibility to stand behind us
when we take the same stance our ancestors have taken, the same stance we took at
Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake. To defend Ourselves, our Relatives, our Lands, our Waters
and Future Generations. No surrender. Total resistance.
Kanahus Manuel, (250) 299-1859
Anushka Azadi, (403) 998-0432
Posted on January 31, 2016, in Defending Territory and tagged #gustafsenlakeinquiry, Gustafsen Lake, Gustafsen Lake Seige, ts'Peten, William Jones Ignace, Wolverine. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.