(eng)Gustafsen: Lil'Wat Elder Testifies

S.I.S.I.S. (SISIS@envirolink.org)
Sun, 13 Apr 1997 21:39:44 -0500

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:-:-:-:-:-:-Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty-:-:-:-:-:-: April 12, 1997 Bulletin


Lil'Wat elder Lahalus (Loretta Pascal), testified with great dignity at the Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) trial April 9, 1997. She was called as a witness by self-representing defendant Shelagh Franklin. "I am Lil'Wat, one of the people of the land. Canada came after us. We have our own laws... the people are our constitution," Lahalus said. "We are spiritually, emotionally, and physically connected to mother earth -- one of our laws is to protect mother earth, and all her children... It isn't just an environmental issue, the survival of our nation is in jeopardy. We are connected to the land in all ways. Pascal said she's been working with native rights lawyer Bruce Clark ever since the standoffs at Ure Creek and Duffy Lake in 1990. She's been in front of 50 judges over issues of determination, but has never been answered, even though "it's in the Canadian constitution that we have the inherent right to sovereignty and jurisdiction." "I had to make a stand, myself, that I was no longer going to be a victim of the crimes, abuses, colonialism and genocide," Lahalus continued. "I have found my own identity, I know who I am and where I come from." Pascal further testified that her husband Chubb, like defendant Percy Rosette, is a traditional caretaker of the burial site, and that she had learned the history of the Gustafsen Lake area from the people who lived there. Lahalus talked about the 1910 Shuswap-Okanagan alliance, the 1911 Lil'Wat Declaration and the subsequent alliance all three nations. Her grandfather was one of the chiefs who made the Lil'Wat Declaration; "we were just carrying on where they left off." Just as she, as a Lil'Wat, had supported the stand by the Shuswap at Ts'peten in 1995, Shuswap elder Wolverine, defendant in this trial, had stood with the Lil'Wat at the 1990 Mount Currie blockade. When Franklin tried to question the witness about violence against the Lil'Wat and their supporters at the Ure Creek blockade, which was unattended by police, Judge Josephson intervened: "there may be endless examples of that, but that won't assist the jury." Josephson also declared irrelevant defence counsel Azevedo's question as to whether Lahalus thinks there is a pattern of RCMP violence against natives. "I'm sure we could have a two or three year trial on that alone," the judge remarked. Another self-representing defendant, James (OJ) Pitawanakwat related Lahalus' testimony to his own nation. OJ said that he's Odawa, one of the three fires of Ojibway nation, that they too have their own laws, known as the 21 commitments, and that there's a strong likeness between the commitments and a wampum, a reference to the Gus-Wen-Tah (Two Row Wampum Treaty) of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. (Online at http://www.axess.com/users/mnation/tworowwampum.htm) Lahalus pointed out that people of different nations come together as an "extended" family to support and protect each other and their lands. "I've been criminalized for standing up for my rights, and my land, [but] I've freed myself from that Canadian system. I've made my stand, that's my responsibility as a woman and a mother."


:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-PLEASE SEND LETTERS OF PROTEST TO:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:

Ujjal Dosanjh BC Attorney General and Minister of Human Rights Parliament Buildings Victoria, BC V8V 1X4 Canada Phone: (250) 387-1866 Fax: (250) 387-6411 email:nlane@galaxy.gov.bc.ca

Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs email: ClerkComm@lass.gov.bc.ca

:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:

Free the Wolverine Campaign Spokespeople: Splitting the Sky - Phone/Fax: (604) 543-9661 Bill Lightbown - Phone: (604) 251-4949

Ts'peten Legal Defence Team: Manuel Azevedo, Phone: (604) 687-0231, Fax: (604) 687-0241 Margaret Clark, c/o Phone: (604) 687-0231, Fax: (604) 687-0241

Loretta and Chubb Pascal can be contacted at PO Box 208 Mount Currie "BC" VON 2KO "Canada" Phone: (604) 894-6640 Fax: (604) 894-6095 email c/o: lscroggi@cyberstore.com

:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-: S.I.S.I.S. Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty P.O. Box 8673, Victoria, "B.C." "Canada" V8X 3S2

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