Secwepemc women shut down treaty vote in Williams Lake

Secwepemc treaty protest 3

Secwepemc women disrupt vote for BC treaty process held by the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council in Williams Lake, Feb 11, 2016. Photo: Facebook

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:

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RCMP vehicles that were present in Williams Lake during the action by the Secwepemc women, Feb 11, 2016.

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.

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A look of concern and possibly fear…?

“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.

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This cop wants backup… NOW!!!

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Secwepemc treaty protest 1

He doesn’t look like he’s having much fun, lol…

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 , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. That’s sad how this Chief and others move to split the Nation…all over what 3000 extra acres of land….split between 4 bands….oh wait the Nation north of the Fraser probably gets a chunk of that land too

  2. The irony of “they seem to think they represent all Secwepemc but they don’t” – coming from someone who is engaging in colonial conquer and divide by calling Secwepemc northern vs southern (there is no Southern Shuswap Tribal Council, only a Secwepemc Nation Tribal council; only the NStQ distinctly say “Northern”). The irony is also thick with complaints about interrupting a “legal” process since treaties can only be made by whole nations, not a few bands of one, and the NStQ are trying to “speak for all Secwepemc” by engaging in the treaty process this way. The NStQ process is breaking our own laws because Secwepemc hold collective “title”, that is, if you are Secwepemc you can travel/gather/hunt/interact with the land across the nation regardless of the band you’re from. Sure, there are areas that are more private or band-controlled (site-specific or area-specific) and yes, currently bands control what happens on their own reserves. But approaching treaty from this way is still colonial because the reserve system is a colonial one!

    I’m not saying I disagree or agree with how some of our Secwepemc people responded. I will say I agree with them that this process is illegal (from both sides, again because the NStQ are not the whole nation) and destructively divisive, and regardless if that is the way I would have approached it, I’m glad and proud they stood up against it. There’s only so long you can try to engage and communicate politely, appealing to our own Secwepemc normative values and practices, our ways of Being with Land, and our social and political institutions that are supposed to be upheld collectively by all Secwepemc leadership and people. What do you expect those who know this process goes against all of our collective laws to do? It is this treaty process, and the NStQ engagement in this colonial process that is disruptive and divisive to our collective well-being and ability to self-govern *as a nation*. Even if the NStQ argue that “southern” Secwepemc can choose to engage in the process at a later time, they are forcing the hands of other Secwepemc by trying to divide our territory (that has many shared sites, even between our nation’s and our neighbouring nations) into two. There are other, better ways of asserting our sovereignty and self-governance (look to our Tsihlcot’in neighbours) that trying to divide our strong, beautiful nation into two.

    I understand the importance of tribal councils, because our territory is so large it is beneficial to have supports that are more specific to the needs of some bands depending on where they are in Secwepemcul’ewc. That does not mean that goverence should or can be split up this way. The division between the two tribal councils is also slightly arbitrary (why north/south? Why not east/west? Why not Columbia River vs Fraser River? Why is North Thompson/Simpcw not “northern” while High Bar/Llenlleney’ten not “southern”?)

    These divisive colonial tactics engaged by the NStQ only serve to weaken all of our relationships that hold together our nation. It is not these strong “protesters” who are being destructively disruptive, it is those supporting and encouraging system that attacks and threatens our people, our land, our governance, and all of our relations.

    That only NStQ members were allowed to go to information sessions (and not even Secwepemc who have many family members in NStQ but are not NStQ members themselves), meetings, decisision-making processes, speaks to how the NStQ are trying to “speak for all Secwepemc.”

  3. Reblogged this on Dolphin and commented:
    My understanding is that before the European invasion, the tribes did not have Chiefs, per se, but EVERYONE participated (or not) in their own governance. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution was modeled after the Iroquois Six Nations way of governance. Oh, the irony…now we have women whom have been downgraded to second class status, where they were once considered equals, now being portrayed as independent troublemakers instead of welcoming their input.

  4. Laws put on a people cause so much confusion amongst the people. If ever the RP of 1763 would have been honoured, none of this would ever have to happen. This is a prime example of how govt divides the people. One law says from the courts says we have “COLLECTIVE” RIGHTS another dept (inac chiefs and councillors) says and encourages individual bands to do treaties totally going against the laws of the court….

  5. Boooooo, democracy! Let’s get what we want through violent threats and ballot destruction. It doesn’t matter if we represent a small minority. We know we are right.

  6. I hope those people that interupted the vote are successful. Yah! Get out of the little ‘c’ canada’s corporate system. canada’s corporate number is .00023000096. Check it out for yourselves.

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