Native battle in Yale
- From: Doug Kelly [mailto:dougkelly@...]
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 8:17 AM
Subject: Chilliwack Times - Native battle in Yale
Native battle in Yale
Paul J. Henderson
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sto:lo Tribal Council (STC) leaders and Yale Indian Band Chief Robert Hope may face charges in connection with an ongoing conflict at a ceremonial site in the Fraser Canyon.
The site is on unoccupied Yale reserve lands where a memorial plaque to Sto:lo ancestors was recently removed by Yale band members.
Members of the STC held a memorial ceremony on Oct. 26 near the small cemetery on the Eayem reserve just north of Yale to replace the plaque.
RCMP members attended to prevent conflict between STC and Yale members.
Then on Nov. 2 the STC held a burning ceremony for their ancestors at the site and again the RCMP were present.
In a press release issued yesterday, Cpl. Peter Thiessen of RCMP E division strategic communications said that the RCMP will investigate any complaints received, gather evidence, and forward charges to Crown counsel "without prejudice or favouritism."
"At this point no charges have been laid," Thiessen told the Times. "However we are investigating allegations from both sides in regard to alleged criminal activity."
STC Grand Chief Doug Kelly said he heard from RCMP on Sunday that Hope will face charges for the destruction of the memorial plaque that he has admitted publicly, and STC leaders will face charges for trespassing.
He is angered by the notion that STC leaders would face charges for carrying out what he says is the cultural equivalent of a funeral service. "One of the things that I said to [RCMP at the ceremony] is this: Would the RCMP ever contemplate charges against a Roman Catholic priest or any clergyman that was conducting a spiritual ceremony at a cemetery?" he said. "It's the same thing."
Kelly also said the RCMP told him they were getting pressure from the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC) to press charges. But an INAC spokesperson told the Times they would never do that.
"We are only involved because its an Indian band and they are negotiating a treaty," said Rhonda Chaput.
The Yale Indian Band is currently negotiating a treaty with the federal government. Concern has been expressed by Kelly and other STC leaders that Yale Chief Robert Hope thinks he will get exclusive fishing rights on the Fraser River in areas the Sto:lo have fished for thousands of years. But Chaput said this would never happen.
"A First Nation would not have exclusive access to a fishing area," she said. "That's not the way it works at all."
Chaput added that since January INAC has tried to engage STC bands to express their overlapping claims with the Yale band but to date they haven't taken them up on the invitation.
© Chilliwack Times 2008
Grand Chief Doug Kelly (Tseem Th'ewali)
Treasurer & Tribal Chief for Intergovernmental Relations
Stó:lô Tribal Council
PO Box 3013
Cultus Lake, BC
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