Today in the BC Court of Appeal, BC's Chief Justice Allan McEachern, as part of a three judge panel, granted a motion sought by Ts'peten Defenders Wolverine (William Ignace) and OJ Pitawanakwat to withdraw an appeal based on non-jurisdictional grounds that was filed by one of the Gustafsen counsel. This now leaves Ignace, Pitawanakwat and non-native Defender Shelagh Franklin standing on the jurisdictional challenge to the non-native courts and government's assumption of jurisdiction over sovereign, unceded, indigenous territories.
At several points the BC Chief Justice urged the appellants to reconsider withdrawing their non-jurisdictional appeal of their convictions in the Gustafsen trial. "I wish to record the fact they are making a mistake in my view," said McEachern. In granting the application, the BC Chief Justice made an order that a non-jurisdictional appeal could be reinstated if the appellants wished.
OJ Pitawanakwat told the court that there is an "obvious conflict of interest" in the domestic judicial apparatus of Canada presuming to decide the extent of indigenous rights. Shuswap elder Wolverine, serving eight and a half years imprisonment for his role in the 1995 standoff in defence of sacred, unceded Sundance grounds told the court that "the province has not dealt with the constitutional and international law" which upholds indigenous sovereignty and rights over unceded, territory.
In an interesting coincidence, this was also the day that the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its decision on the Delgamuukw appeal. McEachern was the trial judge when the Gitksan-Wet'suwet'en land claims case was first heard in the BC Supreme Court. McEachern found that native rights had been "extinguished" and that native existence was "nasty brutish and short" in the pre-colonial period. It is widely believed that the Delgamuukw case was an orchestrated fraud designed to preempt and close the door on the sovereignty and jurisdictional challenges posed by cases such as that of the Ts'peten Defenders and their counsel of choice Dr. Bruce Clark. The Supreme Court of Canada decision handed down today returns the matter to the BC court system. "A new trial is necessary" found the court.
For more information on:
Allegations of fraud in Delgamuukw:
The jurisdictional argument and Bruce Clark:
The full text of today's SCC decision on Delgamuukw: