Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Líl’wat, St’át’imc UN Permanent Forum New York

May 25, 2011,

Líl’wat, St’át’imc, in New York at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

For Immediate Release:

A delegation from Líl’wat, St’át’imc, is attending the 10th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, USA, from May 16 to 27, 2011. Lil’wat is one indigenous community of eleven within St’at’imc (STAT-lee-uhm), about 150 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The St’at’imc, otherwise known as the Lillooet Tribe, are a sovereign nation.

The delegation brings news of two serious actions they are taking to protect themselves from Canada and British Columbia’s incursions on their aboriginal title, rights and freedoms, and self-determination.

The first is a petition to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. This petition complains of repercussions of the lack of treaty between either Líl’wat or St’át’imc with Canada; repercussions which include the imposition of the Indian Act on St’át’imc citizens. Petition 879-07, Loni Edmonds v. Canada, was accepted on July 13, 2007, and has still not been reviewed. This petition speaks principally to the lack of treaty between the sovereign nation of St’at’imc, particularly the independent community of Lil’wat, and Canada. The key issue which brings the petition forth is British Columbia’s indiscriminate and wholly destructive practice of seizing our children and removing them to non-indigenous homes. This is in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The second issue they bring forward is the recent progress of the “St’át’imc Settlement Agreement with BC Hydro” and the province of British Columbia. This Final Agreement with the public utility BC Hydro Power Corp. has been rejected by a number of concerned citizens for many reasons which fall into two categories: the Agreement itself is inadequate, and the process by which the elected Chiefs manufactured its ratification is an offense to traditional St’át’imc governance and even failed to adhere to their own ratification procedures. Construction of dams and generating facilities in St’at’imc territory, to say nothing of the high voltage powerlines and substations, has caused irreparable harm to the St’at’imc way of life. We wonder if, in fact we suspect that, the elected Chiefs were under some sort of duress.

The people will be orienting themselves in the international forum to see how their complaints against Canada may be made better known internationally, and resolutions supported. They will also be encouraging the debate at the Permanent Forum to turn to matters of treaty, or the lack of which, and the culpability of colonial states who deny recognition to the indigenous nations whose lands and peoples they have co-opted.

Having exhausted the “domestic remedies” available in Canada, the petitioners seek protection from Canada’s persistent interference in their families, communities and in the larger St’át’imc nation socially, politically and economically.

They also seek recourse for the ongoing violence against themselves, homelands and their entire way of life. Since provisions in the Canada-legislated Indian Act, 1876, restricting freedom of travel, meeting to discuss the “land question,” and retention of legal counsel were lifted in 1959, Líl’wat and other St’át’imc have been pursuing justice in BC and Canadian courts – where their cases have been improperly thrown out, left unfinished, or concluded unsatisfactorily- ie., thrown out of court when St’at’imc Hereditary Chiefs demand evidence of Canada or British Columbia’s extinguishment of the St’at’imc title and right. Canada cannot provide this evidence because it does not exist. The courts seem to defer to Canada.

The Líl’wat delegation is releasing this news to the press in hopes that it will be reported as presented for the education of all residents of colonial occupations on indigenous lands.

Attached please find our written submission to the UN PFII 10th session.

Líl’wat, also known as Mt Currie, located north of Whistler, is a St’át’imc community.

A Written submission

To the United Nations 10th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 2011

The Elders of my family named me Pau Tuc la Cimc. According to the government of Canada, I am James Douglas Louie, certificate of Indian Band Status Number 5570025701.

I am a Lil’watimc of the St’at’imc Nation.

The Lil’wat, Statimc, declare that our laws were and are oral.

The Statimc are a distinct people who, from time immemorial, have shared the same language, culture customs and history. We live within the domain of the Statimc nation which has occupied, used, and exercised sovereignty over its land and resources for the collective benefit and freedom of its citizens from time immemorial. We subscribe to our nation’s laws, values and traditional systems of government to the exclusion of all other jurisdictions which seek to impose alien and assimilative regimes.

We, people of Lil’wat of the Statimc Nation, have consistently declared that our land and our rights as a Nation have never been relinquished by ourselves. The Creator placed us here on our land with the right to self-determination. The right to self-determination and the right to exist as a people is sacred in our way, and is enshrined as Article 1 of both Covenants of the International Bill of Rights. We believe we have that right.

No one can represent us but us—not Canada, not any church, and no general Aboriginal lobby group in Canada. We have exhausted “domestic remedies” within Canada to get justice and restore our land and our people on our land to their previous state of sovereignty.

Only Lil’watmc can speak for the Lil’wat of the Statimc. We are not Canadian and English is not our first language.

We have suffered persistently for 150 years under the assertion of jurisdiction being carried out by the Canadian Province of British Columbia. We have suffered the indignities, oppression, dispossession, and deprivation of colonial racism and rule, which have denied us our rights and freedoms as human beings and our identity as Statimc citizens.

We have no immediate way of pursuing Canada for reparations, restitution and restoration, but we continue to oppose, reject and resist all efforts of the federal and provincial governments to extinguish our title to our traditional lands and resources in exchange for money and small “fee simple” allotments; impositions of the “Indian Act” on our Nation without our consent—the effect of which is to destroy our claim to nationhood, to redefine us as an ethnic minority and our community as a municipality, to make us subject to property and income taxes and to bring us under colonial rule; and which the Canadian and BC governments pursue by deceiving our citizens and the general public by broadcasting a pretend consultation process to manufacture the appearance of our consent.

Consent, to us, is sacrosanct. We know that our consent to all activity in our nation is protected by international statutes, but we can’t seem to enjoy this protection.

While we invite Canada to engage with us to resolve "the land question," or, the unresolved claims of British Columbia and Canada against Líl'wat and St'át'imc title, our attempts to raise these issues have been thrown out or inadequately treated in British Columbia courts and in the Supreme Court of Canada. . We believe this is because the government of Canada has failed to incorporate our international human rights into domestic law derives much from the illegal sale and lease of our lands and resources. We have no treaty with Canada.

In our pleading to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Court (Petition 879-07, Loni Edmond v. Canada), we explain this situation thoroughly. The lead problem addressed in that petition relates to whether the Government of Canada has the legal right to seize our children and place them in foster care. Our young children have, for many generations now, been indiscriminately taken from their parents by the province. We cannot get redress and we cannot seem to stop the province from ruining our families this way.

That Petition was formally received by the OAS IACHR as of July 17, 2007 and is now under study in accordance with the current rules of procedure. It was submitted with the assistance of the International Law Clinic of the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, a Non-Governmental Organization in Consultative Status with the UN. We also gratefully acknowledge their support in accrediting our participation here at the 10th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

We are attending United Nations meetings to bring further attention to our situation: our case has still not been reviewed by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the OAS, though it continues to acknowledge receipt of materials updating the case. We have not received an initial evaluation from the Commission of the OAS.

Canada has imposed itself on our people and our lands unjustly and indefensibly. To quote from our Declaration of the Lillooet Tribe of 1911, "…we are the rightful owners of our tribal territory and everything pertaining thereto." We have no treaty with Canada. We are a nation of the world, unique and self contained, with our own land, language and people; our own culture, government and history. Since 1871 Canada has asserted jurisdiction over our country, and British Columbia has done so since 1859. Again, repeating our 100 year old Declaration, "we deny their right to it."

We believe that our people have, and will always have, the birthright to the lands handed to us by our forefathers and mothers. Until such time as we cede, release, surrender or extinguish our title, we will have this title. We have never made such a release, and plan never to do so—that our people may continue in this world until time out of mind, living peaceably in our homeland—undisturbed and unmolested.

We have suffered almost to the point of extinction as a result of the policy and practices of the province of British Columbia and the state of Canada. At this time, they control us by force through such tactics as seizing our children, incarcerating our adults and defenders, intimidating our Elders, moving our villages, and exercising sway over our elected Chiefs—Indian Act Chiefs elected to administer to us the relief Canada so inadequately delivers in our duress, while our lands are occupied by Canada and the corporations they contract with.

To the present day, the Statimc Nation has had to deal with Federal policies whose effect is genocidal and unlawful under the terms of the International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide, in particular Article II (c) "Deliberately inflicting on the ground conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

In addition, Canada is in breach of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which remains an integral part of Canada’s Supreme Law; the Constitution Acts, 1867 and 1982. The Proclamation acknowledged and affirmed that the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the British Crown was and would Remain “Nation to Nation”; a relationship which Canada is actively seeking to dismantle in favour of Provincial Jurisdiction. The Proclamation made it unlawful for Colonial Governments and their successors to engage in “Great Frauds and Abuses”; a crime for which Canada was and remains guilty.

The same Proclamation also made it unlawful for Colonial Governments and their successors to interfere in the internal affairs of Indigenous Nations, an edict which has been consistently ignored by Canada and is the cause of great damage to the Statimc people.

With the imposition of the Indian Act, which forces us to replace our traditional government of family head representation with one elected Chief and Council to every Indian Reserve, our usual mutual relationships within our country have been severely challenged. Canada administers poverty rations to each Indian Reserve, which are then distributed by the elected leaders, while Canadian, British Columbian and multi-national corporations reap the riches of our lands, waters and resources that they deny us or restrict our access to.

Now at the 100th anniversary of our Declaration, we are experiencing a painful schism among our people: between those who stand to benefit in the short-term from access to the poverty rations and those who instead stand to lose access to land and water being usurped by the provincial utility, BC Hydro. The leaders in the Indian Act system have arranged a Settlement Agreement with the province and the utility which contradicts all our aspirations to sovereignty in our country. What should be a joyous celebration of our perseverance, our continued survival in the face of all odds, is instead a moment of division. This is but one of the problems we face while our power over ourselves and our land is denied and our physical and cultural survival is undermined.

We hereby reject the so-called Settlement Agreement since it violates our right to

self-determination under customary international law and treaties to which Canada is a party.

We seek reparation, restitution and restoration. We seek recognition of our people and our right to exist in our homeland according to our birthright, to be free and independent.

As repeated from a letter to the OAS IACHR, “What is important, particularly for the credibility of the OAS and its human rights tribunal, is that the OAS must not bring into doubt its belief in the right of the victim to a fair hearing in order to appear to promote equity before the law vis-à-vis the state and the victim.”

We seek the good offices of the United Nations human rights system to advance our case.


Pau Tuc la Cimc, Líl’wat, St’át’imc

Listen to interview at Latin Waves Indigenous Show:

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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