The criminalization of Indigenous land defenders

27 posts / 0 new
Last post
The criminalization of Indigenous land defenders

The criminalization of Indigenous land defenders opposed to mega-projects a global concern

Published by Brent Patterson on January 15, 2020 (PBI)

The Globe and Mail headline reads RCMP viewed B.C. Coastal GasLink protesters as ‘radicalized,’ court documents show.

That article reports that on January 8, 2019, the day after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided the Gidimt’en checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia, RCMP Sergeant John Uzelac stated in an affidavit, “I am aware that critical infrastructure can be targeted by persons with radicalized ideology.”………

A key aspect to the peaceful resolution of this situation is the state refraining from the criminalization of Indigenous peoples on their own territories and the recognition of constitutional and human rights obligations rather than the presumed supremacy of a corporate fossil fuel mega-project.

Given their experiences to date, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have already “submitted a formal request to the United Nations to monitor RCMP, government and Coastal GasLink actions on our traditional, unceded territory.”......

...My question, why such a timid demand? First a formal action before the Human Rights Committee, possibly ILO, before preparing a Resolution before the General Assembly against Canada!



In the past the UN has sided with indigenous people in Canada over our governments human rights record but our government ignores it. Canada has no shame so another UN censure would be ignored. Hell our federal government will not even follow its own Human Rights Tribunal rulings when it comes to indigenous issues.

UNDRIP at its core is something that had its genesis in Port Alberni nearly fifty years ago because of leaders like Arthur Manuel. Indigenous people I know that are on the front lines do not believe that there is a foreign knight coming to save them. This is a multi-generational resistance and fight. The biggest problem is Canadians will not accept the fact that vast stretches of land are not Crown land that belongs to all of us but rather the ownership belongs to a group of "Indians" and there are only a few hundred of them. Who are they to claim to own so much. 

Education of Canadians is the only way forward. But when our "progressive" politicians like Horgan and Trudeau are obfuscating the issue by saying they have consulted with Indian Act band councils and that the rule of law must prevail the only thing to do is call them liars on every social media platform you post in. Wake people up in Canada, don't wait for the UN to save us from ourselves.

Manuel began working toward creation of that Fourth World, a unification of Indigenous people from around the world to work toward a common cause.

In 1974, “Fourth World: An Indian Reality”, a book Manuel co-wrote with Michael Posluns, was published. In it Manuel wrote about the struggle to have the rights of Indigenous people recognized.

The unified front he was looking for became a reality in 1975 with the creation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, born out of a conference held in Port Alberni, B.C.

Manuel became the organization's first president, a position he held until 1981. In that role, he travelled the world over, meeting with Indigenous leaders and people.

During this time he also worked to see a Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People become a reality. The World Council of Indigenous Peoples adopted the declaration in 1977, starting a ripple effect that would see the United Nations take up the cause and begin drafting its own declaration a decade later.


Bruce Clark: Canadian Criminal Court Jurisdiction Relative to Unceded Indian Territory

"...Criminal court jurisdiction does not exist until the Indian national or tribal jurisdiction has been surrendered by treaty. The burden of proving such a treaty is upon the Crown Prosecution Service of the non-native government contemplating the prosecution of an Indian, for commission of a non-native crime upon unsurrendered territory."

There is recently invented case law that is per-incuriam (invalid through 'lack of care') but appears to establish that the only interest of the Indian in unceded or unpurchased land reserved under the proclamation is the 'right to be consulted' about the proper use of the land by the province or its third party grantees. Since the right to be consulted conflicts with the beneficial interest in possession and jurisdiction held under the authoritative precendents, the doctrine of stare decisis dictates that the law settled prior to the invention of the duty to consult governs, rather than the other way around.

Pending a constitutional amendment, the courts should restore the supremacy of the constitution upon which Canada is premised as a constitutional democracy under the rule of law, by declining to assume criminal jurisdiction over Indians in the unceded Indian territories..."


Canada and NDP BC continue to demonstrate to anyone paying attention, that it is a grotesque theater of the absurd operating completely outside the much vaunted 'rule of law'. It is in reality a racist and brutal corporate settler-state pretending to be 'progressive' with lots of complicit collaborators assisting with the illusion. Given all the gnashing of teeth and professed care and concern for Indigenous rights, 'reconciliation' and the existential environmental crisis of which petrochemical pipelines are a major component, is the whole damn country once again just going to sit and watch while a small group of Indigenous land defenders go down unaided before the combined forces of our own collective apathy, crooked political-legal establishment and its might-makes-right RCMP enforcers? If people were serious about opposing this travesty a great deal more support and solidarity would be evident than is the case now.

jatt_1947 jatt_1947's picture

UN directives against small arms contradict directives ensuring Indigenous autonomy. 
Many territories around the world are small, under guarded and underfunded.
Furthermore, the idea of an armed few and disarmed many (police vs civ) likely contradicts indigenous notions of spiritual and authoritative equality. 


Furthermore, many territories and people's have not had the opportunity to develop robust political institutions. 
Therefore, voluntary militias are likely the only defense. 
Food for thought. 


jatt_1947 wrote:

Furthermore, many territories and people's have not had the opportunity to develop robust political institutions. 
Therefore, voluntary militias are likely the only defense. 
Food for thought. 

You have missed an essential element of this dispute. The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in the leading case on unceded title, Delgamuukw, have already had the SCC acknowledge their ongoing unresolved claims. In that case their system of governance was part of the evidence. They have a political system and have had one for millenniums they don't need to invent a new one.




"Western Canada is complicit in this attack on the living life forms which need a precisely balanced biosphere. We are one of those life forms."


Call For Legal Observers

"Share widely! Call for legal observers at Gidimt'en and Unist'ot'en. No legal background needed (training will be provided), and seeking people from local surrounding areas. If you have been looking for meaningful ways to support, sign up!"



In my efforts to develop international support for the Nations under Treaty 8 of Canada, I had occasion to come to know a little of their ancestral system of government, what with their Council of Elders, their Council of Women, with considerable power, and somewhat of their economic system of distribution....

Respecting International support, so far working with the Maya Kakchiquel grass roots organization, la Coordinadora, affiliated with their National Movement or Popular Assembly, which now are making efforts to build formal alliance in BC for mutual solidarity and Fair Trade.........

There is a formal process through the UN system, which needs to be followed up, first through the Human Rights Committee, formalized via the Covenant on Civil and political Rights, answerable and under the auspices of the General Assembly.

I would think that a number of countries would love to see Canada subject to a Resolution of the General Assembly!


There should also be a concerted and coordinated campaign against the hotly desired rotating seat Canada seeks on the UN Security Council. All of the UN delegations should receive a 'Vote No on Canada!' info package containing all the reasons, including its ongoing usurpation as ecocide and genocide, that Canada should be refused this seat. (Include pictures of JT black-face!) An obvious and easy-peasy job perhaps for Chief Ed John and the other frequent flyer UN/Geneva Indigenous delegations if they're up to it.


RCMP Out of Wet'suwet'en Territory Now! Stand Down!

"Calling for Solidarity Actions across Canada and around the World!"


The Trans Mountain Pipeline Will Likely Become One of the Largest Indigenous-Owned Assets In The World - And That's Just The Start

Canada's 'divide et impera' strategy : Send in the 'friendlies'...


"Big crowd gathered in solidarity with Indigenous youth arrested overnight at NDP MLA Michelle Mungall's office. Some of those arrested are here leading chants..."

Sean in Ottawa

NDPP wrote:

The Trans Mountain Pipeline Will Likely Become One of the Largest Indigenous-Owned Assets In The World - And That's Just The Start

Canada's 'divide et impera' strategy : Send in the 'friendlies'...

Let's unpack the arrogance of the headline. One of the largest Indigenous-owned assets? No. That would be the land the project is infringing on. Many Indigenous people have determined that it does more damage to their largest asset than it is worth. 

Sorry but - this is an example of a headline and story I think that you do not agree with. I really criticize this habit of just posting articles without saying why or if you agree. Everyone -- not just you -- Please take a position on the articles you post -- for against, or looking for reaction to decide.  In this case from what you write, I cannot see you being undecided. Perhaps some times FYI but I think it does not help the conversation to have posts that introduce things without an initial position on them. This would make this site better. It would improve the accoutnability as well of people who post stuff to troll in some cases or becuase they want to say something without defending it and keep the option of changing what they meant by posting it.



Canada's 'divide et impera' strategy : Send in the 'friendlies'...


"IMO the public comments of both BC [NDP] Premier Horgan and PM Trudeau regarding the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs opposition to the CGL Pipeline crossing their Title lands has green lit the RCMP to launch another assault."

"We kind of think they're fanatics and terrorists who simply want to make war for some reason." - RCMP, Gustafsen Lake, 1995. ANOTHER NDP led terrorization against rightful indigenous title-holders seeking compliance with actually existing constitutional and international law.


"Deeply disappointed in Jagmeet Singh's statement on the BC LNG project and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. So in terms of Indigenous sovereignty there is  very clear voice that people want the project...' This does not respect UNRIP or SCC decision in Delgamuukw."

Perhaps the Grand Chief should reconsider such embarrassing endorsements of Canadian settler-state politicians upon unceded, sovereign territories especially since they don't hesitate to stab you in the back later.



'TAKE ACTION: Click to call your MP now to demand that they act immediately to protect the rights of the Wet'suwet'en Nation and STOP RCMP violence against Wet'suwet'en land defenders."


'This Is A Canadian Issue' (and vid)

"This is a Canadian issue: A protest was held near Toronto's Pearson Airport against RCMP presence in Wet'suwet'en Territory. About 100 members of the Rising Tide Toronto group and Porcupine Warriors posted an eviction notice..."


Here is video showing the Gitksan joining the Wet’suwet’en in defending their traditional territory. They were allies before the Europeans arrived and were co-litigants in the Delgamuukw case.


Students Gather At City Hall in Support of Wet'Suwet'en

"Students gathered at City Hall in support of the Wet'Suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a Coastal GasLink pipeline through the territory..."


The Oil Industry's Radioactive Secret

Authored by Nick Cunningham via,

“All oil-field workers are radiation workers.”

That quote comes from a blockbuster investigation by Justin Nobel writing in Rolling Stone, who has spent more than a year and a half researching and reporting on radioactivity in fracking waste.

When a well is drilled, it produces a ton of brine, a salty substance that comes out of the ground. Shale wells can produce as much as ten times more brine than they do oil and gas. While hydrocarbons prove to be useful, the brine needs to be hauled somewhere for disposal. Often it is reinjected into disposal wells, or, in some cases it is sent to water treatment plants.

The problem is that the brine can be radioactive. As Nobel writes in Rolling Stone, radioactive brine may be dramatically increasing the cancer risk for people who come in contact with it. The workers who handle the waste are most obviously at risk. But there are plenty of others. The brine is used for de-icing roads, so municipalities are essentially spreading radioactivity all over roads in various parts of the country.

Old oilfield equipment is also repurposed. Rolling Stone spoke with a Louisiana inspector who saw a child sitting on a fence that was so radioactive that someone might receive a full year’s radiation dose in a single hour.

The oil and gas industry dismisses the risk of radioactivity in the brine, which is naturally occurring, as not something that anybody should be worrying about. However, some of the experts that Nobel interviewed argue otherwise.

First of all, the notion that just because something exists naturally in the world somehow makes it benign, is odd.

“Arsenic is completely natural, but you probably wouldn’t let me put arsenic in your school lunch,” one nuclear-forensics scientist told Rolling Stone.

Second, the industry is barley regulated, if at all, when it comes to handling radioactive substances. Officials at EPA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sounded perplexed when Nobel presented questions to them about the risk, each indicating that they were not responsible for regulating radioactivity in the oil and gas industry.

Nobel profiled several people who have come in contact with brine and have suffered from an array of worrying health problems.

“The workers are going to be the canaries,” Raina Rippel of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, told Rolling Stone.

“The radioactivity issue is not something we have adequately unpacked. Our elected leaders and public-health officials don’t have the knowledge to convey we are safe.”

...somehow thr activists on the front lines must be made aware!


The Lake Is Speaking To Us: Nuclear Waste in Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territory

"One kilometre from the lakeshore, 680 metres below ground, a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) has been proposed by Ontario Power Generation (OPG). The DGR will be home for 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate level nuclear waste. On January 31st, 2020, the members of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation will vote on this proposal. On the eve of the vote, we hope our voice is heard..."

Toxic racism: 'We'll pay to bury our nuclear waste on the FNs' land.'


RCMP on War Footing? (and vid)

"This is the Community Hall in the small town of Houston. It's usually an empty parking lot. Tonight it is turned into a detention complex. This is reconciliation but we are wetsuweten strong...RCMP CIRG appears to be on a war footing. This while 'negotiations' taking place with Hereditary Chiefs."

Respect Indigenous Sovereignty - Stop Invading Indigenous Territory!

BC Attorney General David Eby -


Prime Minister of Canada - Justin Trudeau



'RCMP Are Mobilizing/Escalating For An Imminent Large Scale Assault'

"RCMP flew in low circles around the Unistoten healing center three times this morning. Coach buses to transport police have been spotted at local community centers, which are being used as staging grounds. RCMP are mobilizing/escalating for an imminent large scale operation."

Is this Trudeau's 'reconciliation?' Ecocide and Pipelines.  The world is watching. Where's the support Canada?


More Solidarity Actions Across Canada Today

"Rail blockade in Hamilton still going strong after 2 hours. Shutting down the rail to disrupt ongoing colonization and violence in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en land defenders. John Horgan, stand down the RCMP and cancel this pipeline!"


Talks With Wet'suwet'en Over Pipeline 'Not Successful' Province Says

"..RCMP held a news conference in Surrey on Wednesday to say the courts have left them no choice but to enforce the injuction but they'd like to be able to do that peacefully. Assistant Comm. Eric Stubbs said people could leave on their own or volunteer to be arrested and they'd be taken away without handcuffs or they could be carried out. 'We want to use absolutely zero force, but our members are trained to respond and we will do that...Chief Woos, who also goes by Frank Alec, said Wednesday he expects the enforcement of an injunction in the disputed area is now 'imminent..."

Over to the Canadians. Will they put their money where their mouths are and defend the Wetsuweten and their land rights against this corporate-governmental gang-bang? Does all the professed support for reconciliation, Indigneous rights and 'saving the planet' actually mean anything?  Once again as in 1995, shall we all stand idly by and watch another BC NDP government, by any means necessary, defend the interests of  corporate colonialism over all else? Silence is Complicity. No Justice No Peace.


Does anyone see a match between the "Rule of Law" RCMP occupation of native land and the « Rules-Based » decision to arrest Madame Meng of Huawei. So damn Canadian!


Yes. Because in both cases, contrary to the fond beliefs of many that such things are 'impartial' in Canada, the judging is political.  And in a ground-breaking US case never talked about here because it isn't supposed to ever happen, in 2000, an American judge thought so too, and granted asylum to an Indigenous 'Canadian' on the grounds the Canadian charges and conviction for his participation in the 1995 battle of Gustafsen Lake, were 'of a political character.

Canadian government sought extradition of defendant Canadian citizen who was alleged to have violated terms of his parole by leaving Canada without permission after serving part of sentence. HELD: Defendant's offenses fell within political offence exception to extradition. [Julian Assange seeks a similar exemption from the US attempts to extradite him to face bogus espionage charges from UK]

United States v Pitawanakwat

"The dispute over James' property stems from the contention of the Ts'Peten Defenders that the tribes in British Columbia never ceded or sold their lands to the Canadian government and have a right to occupy their lands rather than settle land claims...On July, 20, 1995, the Canoe Creek Band declared that they preferred to 'use the treaty process.' [So did the Wetsuwet'en hereditary chiefs, who also chose the BCTC process] However, many other groups expressed support for the T'speten Defenders, including the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the people of Kahnawake Territory in Quebec...The Lake Gustafsen standoff was not just an isolated violent disturbance, but occurred in a summer full of disputes between aboriginals and police across Canada. At the same time as the Lake Gustafsen incident, a similar incident was occurring at Ipperwash in Ontario and other lesser acts of violence, such as road blockades were occurring elsewhere in Canada.

It is not clear to this court what precipitated the violent events of the summer of 1995 between the native people and the Canadian government, but they were inter-related. Native people from multiple tribes undertook simultaneous, if not coordinated, actions in defense of their unceded lands and in defense of their people on more than one front, by petitioning the Queen of England, setting up armed encampments, creating a support network with other tribes, overtaking a Canadian military base, and taking control over large areas of land.

Although the violence of the summer of 1995 did not rise to the level of a civil war that is not the test for an 'uprising' sufficent to invoke the political offense exception. The seriousness of the challenge to Canadian jurisdiction over unceded tribal lands is evidenced by the fact that large military forces were deemed necessary to suppress the challenge.

To qualify for the political offense exception, insurgents must direct their offense against the state to change their governments or to alter or abolish the existing government in their country. The Ts'peten Defenders are not seeking to replace it with their own, or even to fundamentally alter the Canadian government. Instead they sought to establish sovereignty over, and to displace the Canadian government, from their tribal lands.

In a very fundamental sense, the Lake Gustafsen incident is analgous to other separatist movements around the world, including the IRA in Ireland, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Basques in Spain, as well as various insurrections in Eastern Europe and Africa. All are violent efforts by Indigenous peoples to overthrow an occupying government in an effort to achieve self-rule [Sovereignty!]. Similarly, the Lake Gustafsen incident involved an organized group of native people rising up in their homeland against the occupation by the government of Canada of their sacred and unceded tribal land. They sought to regain sovereignty by ousting the occupation and control by the Canadian government of those lands.

As the government argues, the Lake Gustafsen incident and other incidents during the summer of 1995 were directed against a governmental policy regarding title to unceded aboriginal land. However, to characterize the Ts'peten Defenders as enaged in a mere land dispute or disagreement with government policy is to trivialize the nature of the controversy. Control over land is one of the primary reasons for the existence of a government and often is the cause of wars between nations Given its substantial economic consequences, the aboriginal land title question in Canada is clearly a highly charged issue for both native and non-native people.

Defendant and the Ts'peten Defenders were attempting to alter their political relationship with the Canadian government by regaining the right of self government over their lands. The Lake Gustafsen Incident was not an isolated incident by a mere handful of insurgents as contended by the government. Indeed, according to the evidence submitted by defendant, it was prt of a broader protest in 1995 aimed at the Canadian government in support of sovereignty by the native people over their land. The trespassing dispute was an opportunity for the native people to affirm their sovereignty against the Canadian government, which if successful, could have dramatically altered the political landscape of Canada.

Although Canada seeks defendant's return only for a parole violation, this court concludes that defendant's crimes, for which he was convicted and later paroled were 'of a political character' and therefore may not provide the basis for extradition of defendant to Canada. For the foregoing reasons, the government's request for extradition is denied and the complaint is dismissed."

Stewart, J. Judge