SchNEWS Of The World


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Native Resistance to "Canada"

In the past two years, indigenous people have taken back their land from the control of government and industry, in the area known as western "Canada." These land re-occupations are the latest actions in a history of resistance to genocide and oppression by the Canadian government. Below are updates and background on four re-occupations that are continuing now (April 24th, 2002).

Graphic: Tania Willard

Sutikalh, St'at'imc Territory - "British Columbia"

The snow is almost melting at Sutikalh, and the mountains have been spared from Ski Resort development for another season. Sutikalh, the St'at'imc community at Melvin Creek, north of Mt. Currie (approximately 4 hours north of Vancouver) has been growing over the past two years. The St'at'imc have remained strong in their stand for sovereignty and against the $550 million ski resort that Al Raine and Nancy Greene-Raine want to build at Melvin Creek. On May 2, 2000, St'at'imc women and grassroots traditionalists began the community at Sutikalh by lighting the sacred fire at the access road to the planned resort. The camp has grown into a community of people, youth and elders, defending their territory from the hands of the ski industry and the government.

Over the summer of 2001, Sutikalh had numerous incidents of RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) harrasment. On July 5th, a roadblock which was set up to stop logging trucks on Highway 97 was met with 40 RCMP officers, including snipers. Six people were arrested and are facing charges of mischief and were given conditions that they can't return to Melvin Creek and can't wear camouflage (!! - ed). The RCMP tore down a lean-to that was a welcome and information center for visitors to the camp (in November 2000, racist rednecks burned down the previous welcome center, now the RCMP have replaced them). The RCMP continued to harrass various members of the Sutikalh community both at Sutikalh and in neighbouring towns, but the St'at'imc have not backed down and given up. They continue to build permanent dwellings at Sutikalh and welcome supportive visitors to the community. They need financial support and people to spread the word.

Skwelkwek'welt, Secwepemc Territory

Since November 2000, the Secwepemc people have been reoccupying their traditional territory at Skwelkwek'welt, known by the colonizers as the Sun Peaks Ski Resort, near Kamloops, BC. They are reasserting their title to their land, in face of the genocide that the BC and Canadian governments continue to commit against them. The Sun Peaks Ski Resort, with the blessings of the BC government, wants to expand and build more lodges and ski runs, increasing their profits at the expense of the Secwepemc.

On Monday, December 10, 2001, on International Human Rights Day, Sun Peaks and the BC Government demolished two homes in the Skwelkwekwelt and McGillivray Lake area. "We received a court injunction to leave those areas. We agreed to leave peacefully." says spokeswoman Janice Billy of the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center. There was to be a court hearing on the morning of Tuesday, December 11 to test the legality of the BC Government's removal of the house at McGillivray Lake, but then that night, the BC Government and Sun Peaks Resort went into McGillivray Lake while no one was there and used 3 big machines to totally demolish the house.

They bulldozed the sacred sweatlodges, traditional cedar bark lodge, removed sacred tobacco ties, and left no trace that the Secwepemc had ever been there. The demolished house had been built by a young Secwepemc woman with the help of many volunteers who had re-connected with the land and learned many traditional teachings from the Elders. A family with young children had just moved into the house and upon returning to the site on Tuesday, found the house and sweatlodges bulldozed to the ground to make way for groomed ski trails.

Despite the destruction and devastation felt by the Secwepemc Elders and youth, their spirit is not broken and they are more determined than ever to seek justice for the Secwepemc.

On December 28th, 2001, two Secwepemc elders, Irene Billy, 73 years old, and Winnifred McNab-Lulu, 75 years old, were arrested and charged for blocking the road near the Sun Peaks resort. The road was blocked in response to their outrage at the destruction of the cord wood home and sweatlodges at McGillivray Lake.

One month later, on January 28th, the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center was re-established near McGillivray Lake in the Skwelkwek'welt (Sun Peaks) area by twenty five people from the Neskonlith band of the Secwepemc, and their supporters. The Secwepemc continue to maintain the Protection Center and are rebuilding the homes and sweatlodges.

"We want the world to know that genocide and ethnic cleansing is not something that happens in other countries, but right here in British Columbia, Canada. We seek your support to obtain recognition of us as Secwepemc Peoples and for a fair and just settlement of our lands. We ask you to express your indignation and horror to these genocidal actions by the Government of British Columbia and Sun Peaks Ski Resort Corporation."

Cold Lake Dene Suline Territory - "Alberta"

The Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range (PLAWR) in Northern Alberta, Canada is a favored NATO playground, where they test missiles, bombs, weapons and aircraft that are currently being used in the 'War against Terrorism.' Since June 2001, the Dene Suline of Cold Lake have maintained a camp at the main entrance of the weapons range in opposition to the theft and destruction of their traditional territory to feed the war machine and the oil industry. This land was stolen away from the Dene Suline in 1952, under the pretense of national security. After harassment and heavy coercion a 20 year lease was granted by the Dene Suline.

Fifty years have passed and the government and military have not moved. PLAWR has increased in importance as the NATO combat simulation program, known as Operation Maple Leaf, brings 18 NATO countries to Dene Suline territory every year to drop bombs and test out the new weapons they use in their wars in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and everywhere else. Depleted Uranium missiles are tested at PLAWR, leading to disproportionate cancer and sickness rates amongst the Dene Suline. The oil industry has also descended upon PLAWR, extracting billions of dollars annually from Dene Territory.

On June 3rd, 2001 Dene traditionalists erected their camp and continue to maintain this occupation. On December 12th, the government passed their next stage of land by working with the Band Council government to pass a referendum which forced a deal onto the Dene to take $25.5 million and a measly 5,000 acres of land in exchange for the 4,500 square miles of Dene territory, encompassing the weapons range. This works out to only $35 an acre and $2,500 for each Cold Lake band member. This deal is genocide and legitamised theft of Native land. The Dene continue to fight and in March and April, they occupied the Band Council offices, calling for the resignation of the corrupt chief.

"Saskatchewan" Dene Suline of La Loche

The wheels of colonization and genocide continue to roll into the 21st century and communities like La Loche in Northern Saskatchewan are in their path. The Dene Suline of La Loche have been fighting against the mining and theft of their land. In 2001 their struggle erupted in blockades and direct action.

In 1974, the Cluff Lake Uranium Mine began operating 64 km outside of La Loche and since then people in the community have been getting sick and over 60% of all deaths have been related to the mine. On top of that wild animals, plants, trees, fish and berries - the lifeblood of the community - have also died from it.

In 1984, the Saskatchewan government and the Ministry of Environment decided to make a provincial park in the traditional hunting and trapping grounds of the Montgrand family, who are Dene Suline. They said they consulted the family and the Dene, but as is usual went over their head and stole 890 sq. miles to make the Clearwater Wilderness Pronvincial Park. Since that time, the Montgrands have lobbied the government in an attempt to regain control over their lands.

In 2000, the Montgrands made repeated demands on the government to produce the documents to prove they had legally taken the land - but after none were forthcoming in another meeting on May 1st 2001 the Montgrand family and other Dene Suline established a blockade on the road leading into the park and the access road for the Cluff Lake mine. They blocked all vehicles from preceding and faced intense persecution as the RCMP came in with SWAT/sniper teams in attempt to kill the people at the camp and leave no trace. Despite this, the Dene stood their ground and continue to assert their title to their lands.

The Dene Suline of La Loche are calling on all supporters to come join them this summer and support their struggles to regain control and access over their traditional territory. There will be another meeting with the government on May 24th, 2002, after which the Montgrands and Dene Suline are planning to obstruct the mining and tourism industry.

"Our leaders are doing nothing for nobody, so we're not going to depend on our leaders," says Skip Montrgand. "We fight for the people. If we stop right away, what's the worth in living? We have to fight for freedom from the government."

For more information about these struggles email

For radical indigenous anarchist publications from western "Canada" write to or Redwire, a Native youth magazine,