On Dec 4, a group of mostly native people interrupted the proceedings of a legislative public hearing on land claims. Some newspapers reported that a person had a glass of water emptied onto her, and that the native people who were allowed to speak, spoke 'incoherently for 15 minutes'.
The purpose of this page is to set the record straight.
Someone did have a glass of water emptied on her. She had (apparently repeatedly) accused a protestor of being a druggie. Although the emptying of the glass was uncouth and impolite, it was not a spurious and unprovoked act.
As for the Sun's claim that the protestors spoke 'incoherently', I produce a transcription of what they said. Judge for yourself.
The tape is complete except for a part of the first speaker's talk where he talks of the importance of tradition. That section is missing from the audio tape which I have, although I may transcribe it later.
I am kuaguantaniat the clan I come from is the quasht quan. the house I come from is the first house nu-hit'on. We are considered the humpback people. I am the representative of the kutchelichuk akmika tribe of alaska, which is on the north gulf coast of alaska.
It is an honour to come before you fellows -- indigenous nations and brothers and sisters here that are all assembled here.
My people were forcefully removed form our lands between 1893 and 1905. The first oil well; the first refinery; the first railroad ever built in Alaska was on our traditional and customary lands of the yak-ack-ooliahh the [talon] the colonialists told our people: "You may live here, but you do not have title. That was the beginning of the enforcement of our people from our lands.
What I see going on here today is another process where they are removing the canadian first nations people from their land.
(section missing here where he talks of tradition)
I'm gonna tell you people something right now. There was an aboriginal settlement in alaska. and it was done without consensus. There's not even 500 signatures on that Alaska native land claim settlement act -- and what it did was strip us of our land and strip us of our customary and traditional rights to fishing and hunting.
It actually put us into taxes state which is what I see going on here today. That is not protection of your land. I do not want to see the first nation people of Canada walk into the same traps that we walked into in Alaska. There has got to be a different process going on because you have title, and Canada like the United States has never perfected title. This is something that the first nations people have to understand -- that if you do not have a perfected title, that they cannot have an aboriginal claim on you.
We have a right to act as a nation and we have a right to act further and force those nation statuses that we have. Our first nation peoples of Canada and the United States, I challenge them to meet at the international levels to treaty -- treaties that protect their lands and their rights forever.
Again -- the titles is not perfected in Canada or Alaska . They cannot put an aboriginal claim and settlement on you. You posses the title, it's alodial title and that is title that is free of the Church and the state.
__ [Ian Wadell]_Gary, I -- I appreciate hearing about Alaska to...
__ That concerns Canada...
__ Yes it does and it concerns us with land claims settlements, because it's a precedent. I would also like to hear from the other two people as well, OK?
Before I, uh -- right.
I want you people to know that the native youth movement has been travelling throughout the country, and throughout the traditional territories of our people. and we have been recognizing the traditional hereditary chiefs of our system. We've been recognizing our traditional territories, and we've been recognizing our traditional people.
We've been interacting with our people on a level where we're not even getting paid -- none of these fellows around here are getting paid. They're going out there, they're doing this because they love our people - and they're goin' out and we're finding out what's going on on our behalf.
And one of the fundamental reasons why we gathered ourselves and why we started is because of the lack of representation of our own selves, of our own people, of our younger people.
As you know, according to your federal statistics, more than 60% of all of our people are 25 and under. 60%! that's more than six out of ten people. -- and they're all in jail, and they're all in foster homes, and they're all living on the street. and they can't afford to get 500 dollars a day to come up here and negotiate with you guys.
We're struggling to survive. It's still the same, and you people know that! You people know. how those systems are affecting us. You do so many studies on us. . And you do this and you negotiate with .. with our leaders?! Do they come down? Do any of you guys come down and talk to us?
It doesn't happen.
We're yours. and what do you think when all of these people that are under twenty five -- what do you think they're going to do when they're thirty? and when they are forty?
We're the biggest rising demographic group in Canada and you have to deal with us as young people . [[applause, cheering]]
And as far as this treaty negotiations go.. I recognize that our Nisga'a brothers and some of our own members are Nisga'a and they recognize our - the negotiators have been struggling for a long time. We recognize that. -- but we also recognize one thing -- that all of our indian leaders, they, uh.. what they fight for is the Guerrin case, or for the fiduciary trust obligations which means consultation.
But what does consultation mean when 60% of our people aren't consulted with.
I want all of our young people to stand up for a second here .. Come on guys, get up.
[applause] You look a them. All of these people right here! All of these people are gathering across the country. -- and they're going -- and they're going on one belief. and that belief is unifying all of our people. You see everybody here, this, [cheers, unintelligible] -- You need to recognize our land. You need to recognize our land, and it's our god-given right. We don't need to sign a treaty. We need to recognize it. We need to go down to the people, and that's what we've been doing --going to our young people and saying "Yes, brother, this is your land, and you have that God given right to look after as it as we have always looked after it."
And I heed a warning to every one of you.. If you don't deal with us right now, in ten years, you're going to have a problem on your hands that's going to be so big that that you won't know what to do with our people. [cheering]
[pause, while the next person comes in -- an elder]
My name is Seishlum and I come from Slatlium country. I come here to speak to you with regard to the injustices that have taken place for these last five hundred years with our people.
How many of my people back here have been through the residential school system -- have been robbed of their identity -- have been robbed of everything that was sacred to them: Their land, their resources -- and for that matter, their families
I come here to ask you this question -- who of you here in the front here, have ever analyzed any of the broken treaties right across this land? How many of you basically know what that process has done to native people right across this land? The many promises that you've made, and the many promises that you've broken, and yet you come to us -- and not recognizing the 80% of aboriginal people who live in large urban centres.
Right now, this very minute, one of the very first and last justice centres that stand and work for native people is being closed because of the lies of the white man.
And right now, my people are dying on the streets. Right now, services are being cut right across the board for aboriginal people because of your so-called social reform.
[woman: "I'm an agent"]
And we are wondering: We stand before you in bewilderment .. thinking .. that once before, you came to stand -- and stood before my people, and stated that you spoke the truth.
Our Jails -- Your jails -- continue to be filled with my people. Your justice system -- adversarial justice system at that, I might add- still continues to pay for the multi-billion dollar industry that you've imposed on this country. And that still continues to grow, and you say that you want reform.
and that [reform] that you basically are talking about, it cannot come from your eyes or from your tongue. The reform that needs to take place for aboriginal justice needs to come from the aboriginal people. We need to work in our own healing system so that we can come before you -- yes we can come before you -- with exactly the same kind of strength that the old hereditary chiefs came before you before and made a stand for aboriginal rights [applause, cheering] Aboriginal rights are not for sale!
Debra told me[?], and I know for a fact that the treaty commission basically is making that a requirement that aboriginal rights be extinguished from the table. Well my people, our people that live in these large urban centres have not forfeited that right, and for that matter -- we are aboriginal people from whatever sacred territory that we come from -- for whichever language that we speak.
That will always be the case. Nobody can change that because that is the law of the land, and that is the law of the land that was passed on to us by our ancestors and you will not find that in any book. It is a teaching that was passed on to us by our ancestors for time immemorial like these old chiefs have shared with you -- and nobody can change that.
Healing and justice go hand in hand.. and if there's gonna be any healing taking place, we want some kind of honest representation at the table for the aboriginal groups that have come here this day to make our voices heard.
and in the way that we operate -- we do not operate on the same hierarchical system that you've set in the treaty -- in this treaty process.
Our voices need to be heard in the great circles that were formed by our ancestors through consensus, and that needs to be addressed..
And I thank the courage of my brothers and sisters and my trusted elders who have come here to voice their concerns this day [cheer]
_Ian__ alright, I...
You know that this spirit is not gonna die. I'll let you know this. You continue to operate in the way that you're operating, we're gonna make you accountable. We're gonna make this government accountable for everything that we're doing to native people.[cheer]
_ian_ Alright, the committee's gonna take a five minute break, and we're going to return to our agenda.
[native drumming and singing as people leave]