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Friday, September 24, 2004

Arrests of Skewelkwek'welt defenders condemned by Council of Canadians

Letters of support for the Skwelkwek'welt defenders, along with condemnations of their arrests, continue to be sent. The latest one is from the Council of Canadians.

Council of Canadians Condemns Arrest of Indigenous Activists at Sun Peaks
PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 23, 2004
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: The Council of Canadians joins the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre and national and international supporters in condemning the arrests of three Indigenous protestors on Tuesday, September 21 at the Sun Peaks Ski Resort in Kamloops, BC.

"These arrests show that the Gordon Campbell Liberals are willing to use police force to keep BC open for business as usual', says the Council of Canadians?" BC-Yukon Regional Organizer, Tara Scurr. "The provincial government is willing to openly defy a Supreme Court of Canada ruling for dealing with Aboriginal interests in traditional territories in order to allow the Sun Peaks expansion to occur in time for the 2010 Olympics".

On September 6, Sun Peaks Resort took Secwepemc protesters to court and was granted an injunction and enforcement order to remove them from occupying Phase II of the expansion site. Rather than stepping in to protect Aboriginal Title and Rights as mandated by the Canadian Constitution, the Attorney General of British Columbia appeared in court to support the Sun Peaks motion to obtain the injunction. The provincial government is willing to facilitate corporate control over Aboriginal territories at the expense of Canada's national and international obligations.

Chief Nathan Matthew of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) stated in a joint press release with the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre, "there will be conflict between the Secwecpemc and the federal and provincial governments as well as developers until the federal and provincial governments live up to their legal obligations and implement the Delgamuukw and Haida Supreme Court decisions through good faith negotiations rather than through narrow, sharp dealing decisions that result in direct action and the criminalization of the Secwepemc people".
 
The Council of Canadians works with grassroots activists throughout Canada to protect the commons and will continue to support a community-led process in Secwepemc Territory that seeks to uphold judicial and constitutional obligations that affirm Aboriginal Title and Rights. We are encouraged that a solid working relationship between the SNTC and the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre has emerged to work for the protection of these rights.

We will continue to inform our members about the efforts to exercise Aboriginal Title and Rights in Secwepemc Territory. We ask that the Canadian government stop the criminalization of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada who exercise their rights and to instead strengthen the mechanisms by which Aboriginal Peoples can assert their Aboriginal Title and Rights.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Tara Scurr, BC-Yukon Regional Organizer, 604.688.8846
or Laura Sewell, Media Officer: 1.623.233.4487 ext. 234
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