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(en) Canada, (Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre) ABORIGINAL ACTIVISTS IN THE NTERIOR OF BC CELEBRATE VICTORY

From Stefan Christoff <christoff@dojo.tao.ca>
Date Sun, 12 Jan 2003 04:55:19 -0500 (EST)


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Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre
c/o P.O. BOX 608
Chase, BC, V0E 1M0, CA
Telephone: +1 (250) 679-3295
Fax: +1 (250) 679-5306
Email: jrbilly@mail.ocis.net
---------------------
Sutikalh - Melvin Creek Camp
P.O. Box 309,
Mount Currie, B.C. V0N 2K0, CA
Rosalin: +1 (604) 894-2400
Fax: +1-(250) 259-8384
Email: sutikalh@telus.net

PRESS RELEASE

ABORIGINAL ACTIVISTS IN THE INTERIOR OF BC CELEBRATE VICTORY

SECWEPEMC ELDERS FOUND NOT GUILTY

ST'AT'IMC DEFENDER RELEASED FROM JAIL

(Kamloops, January 10th, 2003) Aboriginal activists leave the Kamloops
court house jubilant: a judge found elders Irene Billy and Charlie Willard
not guilty of contempt of court for refusing to leave their land at
Skwelkwelk'welt. Also present was Lawrence Pascal of the neighboring
St'at'imc Nation who was released from the Kamloops Detention Centre where
he had been held for 2 months for defending his ancestors land against the
construction of Cayoosh Creek Ski Resort. An appeal in his case has been
granted.

The Secwepemc people, accompanied by leaders and members of fellow
Interior Aboriginal nations, are proud of and inspired by the example
given by their elders Irene Billy (74) and Charlie Willard who, along with
Segwses and George Manuel Jr., on July 23rd, 2001 refused to obey a court
injunction sought by Sun Peaks to tear down the Skwelkwek'welt Protection
Centre. International law considers the forceful removal of indigenous
peoples from their traditional territories genocide. The provincial judge
found that the Crown had failed to prove the criminal intention of the
Secwepemc defenders beyond a reasonable doubt.

Irene Billy, Elder, stated, as she left the court: "I always knew we were
right, this is our land, we have the right to be here and Sun Peaks and
the province cannot remove us from it. We love this land and we will
continue to protect it."

This case sets an important precedent for other cases of Aboriginal people
defending their lands around Skwelkwek'welt and Sutikalh.

Chief Manuel of the Neskonlith Band stressed: "I am delighted with the
court decision, our people are not criminals, they love and defend their
land and the courts are coming to realize that. It is the government and
the companies who refuse to deal with our land rights and human rights in
a meaningful way, they are the ones who use violence and the police
against our people."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Janice Billy: (250) 318 4290

To speak to Lawrence Pascal: (250) 319 2084 (Chief Arthur Manuel)


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