CONTRIBUTION · 10th July 2012
I was disappointed but not surprised by the decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court to say the Treaty Vote can happen today in Sliammon, British Columbia, Canada.
I know that Canada and British Columbia want to add the BC Sunshine Coast to Canada. It was clear that Mr. Justice Savage did not write the decision he said he was going to write during 20 minutes he gave himself after hearing the arguments.
Furthermore I did not hear the Justice Savage contend with the complicated Constitutional issues raised by the Sliammon Final Agreement that fundamentally impacts the Aboriginal Title and Rights of the Sliammon Peoples as protected under section 35(1) of the Canadian Constitution 1982.
The Sliammon Lawyers Katherine Hensel and Nicole Schabus submitted to the BC Supreme Court that the enrollment and voting guidelines were not established.
In fact these fundamental and Constitutionally documents were actually inside the Final Agreement and obviously were not ratified by the People. Justice totally ignored this reality and sided with Gregory McDade the lawyer for the Sliammon Band.
The Lawyer for the Sliammon Treaty Council argued that the rules had not been ratified yet. According to the way things have been done in the past these rules are followed and passed inside the agreement.
He said if Sliammon people have any objections they can raise it after the vote. This I feel is a total conflict of interest type decision where the supporters of the treaty do not want to deal with these problems before hand.
In fact Canada and other governmental departments have a referendum laws that were established before any referendum is taken. It is only on the Reservations that Judges and Lawyers will allow referendums to happen without having the referendum laws passed by the people who's rights will be impacted by the decision.
I know that Canada and BC and the Courts are only giving lip service to democracy when they say they want this vote without pre-established rules involving enrollment and voting on the Final Agreement.
When I listened to the judgement today, I could not help but feel that it was kind of a Kangaroo decision because the serious matters were ignored. It was like the decision was written before we got there.
But when extinguishing Indigenous Peoples Aboriginal Title and Rights what should you expect in BC.
The Sliammon people decided to go to court. In that sense they were very reasonable but the decision was very unreasonable. It is not really a victory for Canada and BC because this judgement given by Justice Savage will be raised with the United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
In fact Bertha Williams our Emissary to the United Nations sat through today's decisions so she will be very equipped to inform the CERD how Canada, British Columbia and the Canadian Courts actually predetermine that Indigenous Peoples do not have the right to develop their own referendum laws.
It is clear that the referendum laws were done in concert with Canada and BC under the BCTC Treaty Negotiation Process. That is wrong and violates the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples.
I would also like to thank the legal counsel for the Sliammon Peoples. I heard the good arguments that they put forward.
That is what was so disappointing that the BC Supreme Court would not take these views into consideration because they were very valid and important that would help Indigenous Peoples in making decisions and removing economic uncertainty in BC.
The court needs to balance the views of Indigenous Peoples and if they do not then it will put future agreements out of the question.
There is growing feeling amongst Indigenous Peoples that the Final Agreements under the BCTC are too cheap and should not modify our Aboriginal Title. The economic consequences of these feelings will come back in terms of economic uncertainty here in BC.
The courts can only change this through raising confidence that the integrity of the decisions are in the best interest of recognizing and enhancing Aboriginal Title and Rights.
That was not done yesterday. In fact the very opposite was what happened.
Voila! Divided and conquered.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 11th July 2012
The Sliammon "First Nation" voted to ratify their treaty. Have you ever heard of a nation comprised of 700 people?! Only in Canada.
Likewise, the Tsimshian Nation has been meticulously divided for the same purpose. When one enters the hall at Kitsumkalum (a puny Tsimshian VILLAGE), you are accosted by multiple hanging banners declaring you are in KITSUMKALUM FIRST NATION territory! Likewise, in Kitselas.
These spectacular feats of brain-washing and social engineering were begun 100 years ago, and relentlessly proceed today...by the incoming businessmen (and supporting governments). Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Social Credit....whatever! It has made no difference to the historical abuses and outcomes of my people. They just pick up where the last team left off.
100 years ago, all Tsimshian royalty (chiefs and chief matriarchs, and all their families/offspring) were unceremoniously removed from the villages, and the culture declared illegal. The people were isolated from their leaders. The government and the Hudson Bay Company smartly co-opted adult males, who were left behind, with carrots of money and power.
"You guys do not need those chiefs to tell you what to do! Women no longer need to be respectfully considered because you now own women and children.....you are free from all that, and can be just like white men. Forget those crazy feasts, Simoighets, Sigdmhana'as, ceremonies and NAMES. Your new name is Joe! Have another drink, and let us get down to treaty making!" My Father told me that all these treaties were started by a bunch of drunks (white and Indian). Indeed, a major Indian, treaty negotiator of the north was called "Chief Five Star," because of his preference for cheap rye whiskey. For the most part, their descendents populate all the villages, and are still negotiating land transfers, today. Mind you, these days the treaty people seem to be connoisseurs of fine dining and wine lists....
No one complained as Tsimshian royalty left their villages....heads held high, despite their grief for their nation. My ancestors were among them. They left with the culture.
Yes, the Europeans and the hapless villagers will be victorious in their treaty efforts (just like in the village of Sliammon). A hundred years of preparation, millions of dollars in bribes and favours, and an upgrade to "Captain's Table" rye whiskey will not be for nothing. That is THEIR culture now...
Don't ever forget the Tsimshian Nation. It has already left the villages....alive and well.
Good luck to the village of Sliammon. What nation do they belong to? Oh, never mind....