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News and Comment by Tehaliwaskenhas
Bob Kennedy, Oneida
Turtle Island Native Network

Did they have a legal right to act the way they did? It's known as the colour of right defence, and the BC Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of two First Nations women who argued they had that right in 2001 when they protested against expansion of the Sun Peaks resort.

Their lawyers argued on their behalf, "Can ancestral, traditional or customary First Nations beliefs about land entitlement or ownership amount to beliefs about private law for the purpose of colour of right analyses in Canadian law?"

In making her ruling, Madam Justice Levine concluded, "I am persuaded that the appellants have raised an issue of law of importance that has not previously been addressed by this Court".

Nicole Manuel and Beverly Manuel participated in a roadblock on Sun Peaks Road near Kamloops, in August 2001. They were convicted in Provincial Court on September 16, 2002, of unlawfully obstructing a highway and mischief. The convictions were upheld on appeal to the Supreme Court of British Columbia on November 12, 2004.

They took the position that they honestly believed that, in accordance with aboriginal law, they had a legal right to block Sun Peaks Road. Nicole Manuel testified that her understanding of the laws of her people, which she described as "natural laws" and the "laws of the Creator", imposed a duty on her and her people to take care of and preserve the land.

The trial judge accepted the sincerity of Nicole Manuel's beliefs about the ownership of the land in question, but concluded that "she was acting pursuant to a belief in a moral right under the law of the Creator". He took into account, in assessing the reasonableness of Nicole Manuel's belief, an 1862 agreement between Chief Neskonlith and British Governor James Douglas (the Neskonlith Reserve Agreement), and the rejection by the federal and provincial governments, on a "without prejudice" basis, of a claim made by the Secwepemc people in 1996 for recognition and re-establishment of the boundaries and territory set aside for the exclusive use of Indians under the Neskonlith Reserve Agreement.

The BC Supreme Court held that the trial judge had correctly determined the facts and applied the law.

However, the BC Court of Appeal now has reversed those lower court judgments, in favour of the two Neskonlith Indian Band women.

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Protesting Against the Expansion
Click Here for more on skwelkwekwelt
of Development on Secwepemc Land

Land of the Shuswap
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to protest continuing expansion of the Sun Peaks Resort

August 2004
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"Our People have suffered and endured poor treatment from the non- Secwepemc for many generations now.
We have seen our title and rights ignored, our way of life attacked, our lands damaged and fenced in, the fish, game and plants we depend on depleted, and we have seen our children suffer because of all this."
1998 Elders Message to Masayoshi Ohkubo, President, Sun Peaks Corporation

November 16, 2004
Appeals dismissed!
BC Supreme Court upholds intimidation and mischief charges against anti-Sun Peaks protestors

Irene Billy, Sheila Loanne Ignace, Janice Rose Billy and Elizabeth Ann Clemah, all Secwepemc women. Judgment . . . 2004 BCSC 1474 R. v. Billy et al

Niki Valencia Manuel, Beverley Phyllis Manuel and Miranda Dick,
members of the Secwepemc Nation and the Neskonlith Indian Band
Judgment 2004 BCSC 1475 R. v. Manuel et al

Marcus Frank Sauls, Trevor Leon Dennis, Roseanne Gladys Jack and Roderick Clayton Anderson
Judgment 2004 BCSC 1476 R. v. Sauls et al

Click here to see more photos of the arrests of protestors at Sun Peaks September 21, 2004

Secwepemc Rights
Sun Peaks Expansion on Traditional territory

Click on this photo to see a larger image of Secwepemc freedom fighter Amanda Soper and her son Tuweet
May 5, 2003

Dear Friends:

Amanda Soper and her son were joyfully reunited today after able arguments were made by Stuart Rush before the Associate Chief Justice today in Vancouver Law Courts today. Tuweet her 7 month old son was prohibited from being with his mother since February 22, 2003.

Amanda and Tuweet would like to extend their very sincere appreciation for those who stood behind them during this very difficult period of time.

Tuweet Manuel was part of the welcoming delegation at the Vancouver International Airport for Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. It is clear that the failure of the Canadian and British Columbia government to adequately deal with the objection of the expansion of the Sun Peaks Ski Resort from 4,000 to 24,000 bed units is causing the violation of the human rights of Secwepemc Peoples who live off that area.

Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen did go to Sun Peaks and did meet with Tuweet and other Secwepemc Peoples there. Amanda Soper could not join them because she was being held prisoner at the Burnaby Correction Center for Women. Mr. Stavenhagen in a jester of goodwill to Tuweet agreed with Tuweet that he did not have to wear socks.

On a more serous note Mr. Stavenhagen said he was very impressed with the commitment of the peoples to defend their rights as indigenous peoples.

Arthur Manuel
Neskonlith Band, Secwepemc Nation
P.O. Box 854
Chase, British Columbia, V0E 1M0
Telephone: (250) 679-3413
Fax: (250) 679-3403
Mobile: (250) 319-0688

BC v Billy, Sauls, Manuel Jr., and Willard
This is a .pdf file

Secwepemc -- March 2002
Boycott Sun Peaks

.pdf file

Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center

Skwelkwekwelt January 2002 Newsletter
Stop the 70 Million dollar Sun Peaks Ski Resort expansion
This is a .pdf file

Munich, Germany Protest Photos
December 16, 2001

German Support Group


Stop Sun Peaks - German Web Site

Destruction of Secwepemc home,
Desecration of Sweatlodges and Sacred Bundles

December 10, 2001

Our Land Our Culture
The Skwelkwekwelt Land Conflict

This is a .pdf file

December 5th, 2001
Province and Sun Peaks Resort Win in BC Supreme Court
Judge Grants Injunction and Enforcement Order Against Protestors

BC and Sun Peaks Legal Documents
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NOTE click on the numbers to read .pdf files

Detailed Report - Brutal Arrests

How You Can Help

Native youth at McGillivray Lake
on traditional territory

This is a .pdf file

Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center Sun Peaks Oct 2001

Photos September 2001
Native Youth Movement Protest
at BC Crown Assets and Lands Buildings

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"Tourist developments work to displace
aboriginal people from their lands "

by Rodney Bobiwash
October 23,2001

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