Secwepemc women shut down treaty vote in Williams Lake
Feb 11, 2016
A group of Secwpemc women shut down a treaty vote being held by the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NStQ) in Williams Lake, BC. One person was briefly detained by police but reportedly released. A corporate news report is below:
NStQ treaty referendum vote halted Thursday at Sugar Cane
by Monica Lamb-Yorski, Williams Lake Tribune, Feb 11, 2016
Referendum voting on the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NStQ) treaty process was halted at Sugar Cane Reserve Thursday due to aggressive protesters.
Some time around noon a Williams Lake Indian Band member entered the polling station inside the Elizabeth Grouse Gymnasium and smashed a ballot box, said Chief Anne Louie as she stood outside the band office Thursday evening.
“I wasn’t here at the time of the protest, I was attending a youth gang violence forum in Williams Lake,” Louie said. “Apparently the RCMP removed him from the gym and a woman from a southern Shuswap community began ripping up ballots.”
It was decided after that to shut the polling station at Sugar Cane down completely.
“Those who engaged in the protest have taken away individual community members’ rights to exercise their vote and have interrupted a legal process, leaving the band to deal with it,” Louie said as more voters arrived at the gym only to learn the polling station was closed.
It is believed the protesters are against the signing of a treaty and had early encouraged members to vote no to the referendum, which was asking members if they wanted to proceed to the next stage of the treaty process.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, NStQ communications manager Brad McGuire said the other polling stations at Canim Lake, Soda Creek, Canoe Creek and Dog Creek were remaining open until 8 p.m. as originally scheduled.
“Leadership will have to meet to decide what to do next,” McGuire said of the situation at Sugar Cane, noting he witnessed there were eight to 12 people participating in the protest.
Louie said recently the Southern Shuswap Tribal Council wrote a letter to WLIB community members asking them to vote “no” in the referendum.
“To me that’s illegal interruption because they aren’t voting members of Williams Lake, Soda Creek, Canim Lake, Canoe Creek/Dog Creek, the communities involved with this treaty. They seem to think they represent all Secwepemc but they don’t.”
Leadership could have made the decision to go forward to the next stage of the treaty process without taking it to a vote, but chose to engage all of the communities’ members, Louie said, noting it is unfortunate that a few individuals can interrupt a process.
Posted on February 11, 2016, in Defending Territory and tagged BC treaty process, Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, RCMP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Secwepemc, Secwepemc women. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.