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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Update on the Skwelkwek'welt Defenders

From the Anti-Poverty site
Update on the Skwelkwek'welt Defenders

September 1, 2004

Thank you to all those who supported the Convergence this weekend.
Now that the Skwelkwek'welt defenders are building yet another permanent structure off-reserve on traditional Secwepemc territories (adjacent to Sun Peaks golf course) as an assertion of their inherent and legal Aborginal Title, it is imperative that we continue to support this crucial struggle.

On August 29, shortly after the 250-strong protestors left, the provincial government served a Trespass Notice on the Skwelkwek’welt Protection Center.  The Trespass Notice articulates the position that the construction of a permanent monitoring center on unoccupied Crown Land adjacent to Sun Peaks’ expansion is a violation of the BC Land Act. Janice Billy has said “it is business-as-usual for the province and Sun Peaks.  They are both treating Aboriginal Title as if it does not even exist. The BC Land Act is outdated because even the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized Aboriginal Title in all of unceded lands, including Sun Peaks.”

At present, the community continues to remain at the building site and the RCMP have been monitoring the Skwelkwek'welt camp and have not yet acted to enforce the Tresspass Notice. According to Arthur Manuel, "I think they are hesistant to move on their Trespass notice because of the legal soundness of our argument, in light of the Haida Decision. They are looking for something like a fight or army clothing or something that they used in the past to justify not having to deal with the constitutional aspect of the Trespass Notice."

The position of no more expansion is very clear. The courage of the defenders in physically establishing themselves on traditional territories despite all odds- police, government and corporate harrasment, risk of arrests, and no clear or near hope of a victory- continue to inspire us. link


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