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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Resistance without Reservation-revisited

An article appearing in the CBC.

New confrontation brewing at Sun Peaks
WebPosted Aug 30 2004 02:46 PM PDT
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - First Nations protesters are building a protest camp as they renew their fight to block the $70-million expansion of the Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops.

The small group of aboriginal activists say the Crown land is part of their traditional territory, and have been staging protests in the area for the past decade.

It's been two years since the last round of protests ended at the resort – with arrests, and with court orders banning the activists from the resort.,

But those injunctions expired in June. And Neskonlith First Nation organizer Janice Billy says the issues are still there.

"It's the continuing destruction of the land, the ongoing expansion project that we're opposed to, and the non-recognition of our title to the land in this area," she says.

Sun Peaks tourism director Chris Nicholson says he's frustrated by the return of the protesters. And he says the resort is unfairly caught in a dispute between the B.C. government and local First Nations.

"It's got a legal right to exist, and everything that happened was approved in the early 90s by the provincial government," says Nicholson.

The provincial government served a trespass notice on the protest camp on Monday. But Billy says she and her supporters are not planning to back down. article


The article refers to arrests in the defense of Secwepmc Territory. On September 30, 2002, Beverly Manuel, Niki Manuel and Miranda Dick of the Neskonlith Indian Band and Secwepemc Nation were found guilty of intimidation, by a Canadian Court.
The trial is the first in a series that will continue through December as the battle over the larger issue of Aboriginal title in the area unfolds. The Secwepemc Nation, also known as the Shuswap Nation, asserts that the land in and around Sun Peaks Resort is part of their territory.

According to Miranda Dick, the area was included in a land agreement mapped out in 1863 between Chief Niskonlith and Governor James Douglas.

Darcy Alexander, vice president of Sun Peaks Resort Corporation, asserts that Sun Peaks has no dispute with "the great majority of [its] First Nations neighbours." The vice president says the "small, radical group" of protestors has not proved their land claim and without this proof, their claim cannot be resolved. Rather than working to prove their claim, he said, this group of protestors has chosen to protest and stage media events in the Sun Peaks area.

Tania Willard, editor of Redwire, a political urban Native youth magazine, and a member of the Secwepemc Nation, has an opposing point of view. She believes the media frames the events negatively and, furthermore, give little coverage to the controversy when it conflicts with more mainstream concerns, such as Sun Peak's potential benefit from the 2010 Olympic bid.

Neskonlith Band Chief Arthur Manuel clarifies that his band's position with Sun Peaks is not one of outright disapproval, but rather of preventing additional expansion of the resort. Such prevention, Manuel says, requires that constant and deliberate pressure be applied: "If you sleep on your rights, you lose them."

Chief Arthur Manuel said that regardless of the recent court decision, "what really is on trial here is the inadequacy of the federal and provincial governments to deal with the Neskonlith Aboriginal title, our Neskonlith Douglas Reserve of 1862, and their inability to move forward in resolving land claims."

Manuel calls the convictions "part of a strategy on the part of the government to use provincial policies and laws to create an opposition to recognising Aboriginal interests."

"The B.C. treaty process - which most of the bands from the interior do not support - is the latest in the 'my way or the highway' approach of the government," Manuel added.


Nicole Manuel was given 45 days imprisonment and one year probation. Beverly Manuel received a one year suspended sentence, one year probation and thirty hours of community service. Miranda Dick received a six month conditional sentence to be served at Neskonlith Reserve and thirty community hours.

Beverly Manuel is the mother of Amanda Soper. Amanda Soper who had warrants for obstructing an officer and assaulting an officer, was arrested, on February 22, 2003. This incident took place when the RCMP raided 2 camps and pepper sprayed the occupants. Amanda was denied bail in April but was later released in May, spending months away from hew newborn son.


As the Secwepemc have made clear, they are not going away. We'll keep our readers updated.

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