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SECWEPEMCULECW (Chase, British Columbia): Go Home!

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  • Ishgooda
    CPTnet April 1, 2002 SECWEPEMCULECW (Chase, British Columbia): Go Home! by Doug Pritchard Go home you f--ing Indians! shouted yet another carload of visitors
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2002
      CPTnet
      April 1, 2002
      SECWEPEMCULECW (Chase, British Columbia): Go Home!
      by Doug Pritchard


      "Go home you f--ing Indians!" shouted yet another carload of visitors leaving the Sun Peaks ski resort as they passed the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre No. 6. This Protection Centre, a large tent with a wood-burning stove to give relief from the freezing temperatures, was set up at the entrance to the resort in order to protect Aboriginal title and ensure the accommodation of indigenous interests.

      "Duck, everyone, it's a drive-by yelling!" joked a young man to the circle of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal supporters, including CPTers Doug Pritchard and Janet Shoemaker, assembling for prayer.

      "What do they mean, 'Go home'? I am home," said an elder at the Protection Centre. "This is our land. This is where we hunt and gather our berries and medicinal plants. This fire-pit is our living room. This tent is our bedroom."

      Since purchasing the Sun Peaks resort in 1992, Nippon Cable Company has expanded on-site accommodation from 100 beds to 4,000. They have plans approved by the British Columbia government to continue expanding to 20,000 beds. But the Secwepemc people oppose this expansion and the ecological damage they say it will do to their traditional hunting and gathering lands. They cite recent Canadian and BC court cases which require that the Province and corporations ensure that the concerns of Aboriginal peoples are addressed in such development projects.

      Management at Sun Peaks asks why the Secwepemc people are only protesting the expansion now, several years after it began and after they had signed a Protocol Agreement with the Corporation. In response to the protests, Sun Peaks has obtained court orders requiring the relocation or destruction of four Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centres and associated sweatlodges built since October 2000. There have been 54 arrests of Secwepemc elders, land-users, leaders and youth who were engaged in defending their lands. Earlier this month, Sun Peaks delivered a letter demanding that the Secwepemc remove the remaining Protection Centres because they "have not communicated with the corporation about your activities or received our approval to carry them out."

      In a news release on March 20, the Secwepemc say this letter makes a mockery of Canadian court decisions and that their nation continues to dispute the legality of the Sun Peaks expansion project. They have also established and placed on alert a network of support and human rights observation groups in case Sun Peaks or the BC government tries to remove the Protection Centres.

      Christian Peacemaker Teams had an exploratory delegation, consisting of Doug Pritchard (Toronto ON) and Janet Shoemaker (Goshen IN), in the region March 17-26. The delegation met with Aboriginal peoples and their supporters, Sun Peaks management, police, and local politicians to better understand the current situation and the prospects for peacemaking.



      ___________________________
      Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence reduction efforts around the world. Contact CPT, POB 6508 Chicago, IL 60680, TEL. 312-455-1199 FAX 312-432-1213 / To receive news or discussion of CPT issues by e-mail, fill out the form found on our WEB page at http://www.prairienet.org/cpt/
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