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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Skwelkwek'welt defenders arrested

For the past month the Secwepemc People, along with other indigenous and non-native allies, have returned to their traditional homelands to defend against the expansion of the Sun Peaks ski resort. Sun Peaks claims the area as it's private property despite the fact that they Secwepemc never ceded the area to the Canadian Government, nor have they sold it to any individual. The Secwepemc had attempted to negotiate against the expansion and recently returned when it became apparent that the expansion was going forward. This letter is from Arthur Manuel, a long time defender.

Sun Peaks Arrests September 21, 2004

Dear Friends:

It was a very sad day today, I was at the Kamloops Law Courts listening to an appeal regarding previous arrests, and during the brake I listened to my messages and one was from the RCMP telling me that they were on there way to Sun Peaks to execute the enforcement order. Apparently they felt that nothing was being accomplished for their advantage between our talks with the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

I therefore left to Sun Peaks and made it before the police acted on the enforcement order. Our people and our non-indigenous supporters packed their personal belongings, I then made arrangements to bring my truck to the camp location. Janice Billy also drove her vehicle to our camp area. We then loaded our vehicles with our stuff and waited the police to come down the hill. They did and they read out to four people the court order and proceeded to arrest people. The first person left and therefore was not arrested. The remaining three were arrested and brought to Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

One person did give there name and was released immediately. Two of our people would not give their name. One person who was identified this evening by another prisoner not related to this situation. But one person is still in custody and is in the process of taking a fast.

It is very clear that the courts system and police force do not take us into consideration. The legal system is basically corrupt and is set up to steal our land and use it without even thinking about what we feel about our land. The system only thinks about what the settler or investor feels toward our land.

That kind of thinking is from Pre-Delgamuukw or before Aboriginal Title was judicially recognized because that kind of logic cannot work now, despitethe fact that British Columbia judges still think it can. In this case they looked at Frank Quinn's $36 million dollar condo and townhouse sales and said that he was suffering irreparable harm, but they did not take into consideration that he was building those condos and townhouses on our land. I know we are actually suffering a bigger loss than Frank Quinn because we lose our land through third party alienation, and he gets to sell it and become a millionare, but we lose our culture and land. That is a real ripp-off.

I know judges are scrambling to try and rethink how to keep the economic status quo and sound legally logical but I really think they cannot. The fact we own the land means that certain things are going to change. I suppose we need to keep the pressure up and hope that more indigenous peoples here in BC get with the fact that now is the time for change and put pressure on the system.

We own the land, they cannot deny that, they can only get us to extiguish our rights, but if we stand up we can defeat them. It is all a matter of belief in our rights that counts. I saw that today in the strength of our men who stood up to a century and half old system of genocide. The use of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for politcal purposes by using them as an armed force to settle outstanding Aboriginal Title issues about Sun Peaks expansion.

Clearly the federal and provincial government policies have failed therefore they are using armed force to allow Frank Quinn, Darcy Alexander and Sun Peaks to go on their merry way in an Secwepmec free zone inside our Secwepemc territory of Skwelkwek'welt.

We need your help to boycott Sun Peaks and Delta Hotels. Also get after the federal and provicial governments to get their policies in line with recognizing our Aboriginal Title now.

Arthur Manuel

Photos of the arrests





The Defenders are calling for a National Day of Action on Thursday, September 22, 2004. They are asking that people join in their demonstration or support it by boycotting Delta Hotels or any other Fairmont Subsidiary. The Press Release and Flyer can be viewed by clicking on this LINK

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