September 7, 1995 Premier of Canada Jean Chretien fax: (613) 941-6900The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) has been recognized since 1977, as a category II Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with consultative status by the United Nations. In this capacity, the IITC is concerned with the observance of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas and Pacific Islands, including Canada.
We are informed by the En'owkin Centre and other Indigenous groups, of a confrontation at Gustafsen Lake, British Columbia, between an unarmed Shuswap elder attempting to keep cattle from defecating on Sacred Traditional Shuswap Lands and fifteen armed cowboys sent to forcibly remove him. The situation has now dangerously escalated to a confrontation between group of Indigenous men intent on protecting their Sacred Lands and both the provincial and federal governments. The initial injection of governmental force, heavily armed police swat teams, has now escalated to a siege of federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in armored personnel carriers. The sound of shots was reported at the site on September 6 and 7, 1995. All communication with the besieged Indigenous People has been cut off by the RCMP.
We are further informed by the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Mohawk National News Service that on Wednesday, September 6, 1995, at about 9:30 pm, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) opened fire on a group of unarmed Pottawatimi and Ojibway men, women and children attempting to defend Sacred Burial Grounds located in Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) includes the right to Self Determination (Common Article 1, ICESC and ICCPR); the right to Life (Universal Declaration, Art.3); and, the Right to Thought, Conscience and Religion (Universal Declaration Art. 18, and ICCPR Art. 27). Whether or not the government of Canada chooses to respect and observe Indigenous Peoples' human rights and fundamental freedoms as Peoples, the Human Rights Committee has found that Canada is bound to observe the right of Indigenous Peoples as individuals, "...in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, [and] to use their own language." Lubicon Lake Band of Canada, Case No. 167/1984.
The IITC would further remind the Canadian government that the definition of Genocide in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to which Canada is a party, includes: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; and (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction. Art. II.
We remind the Canadian government that in December, 1994, the United Nations declared the Decade of Indigenous Peoples, its goal being "to strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people." General Assembly Resolution 49/214. We also remind the government of Canada of the Preamble to the Universal Declaration, stating that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
We urge the government of Canada to immediately de-escalate its armed actions against the Indigenous Peoples in Gustafsen Lake, British Columbia and Ipperwash Provincial Park, Ontario, and to initiate a process of peaceful and mutually respectful dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples concerned, to address in a serious and meaningful manner the multitude of problems that have given rise to these dangerous and tragic situations.
Because of the seriousness of these concerns, we must require your immediate response addressing these critical matters.
General Counsel, IITC
cc: Assistant Secretary General Julian Berger, Indigenous for Human Rights, UN Affairs, Centre for Human M. Ibrahima Fall Rights, Geneva fax: (41) 22-917-0123 Fax:(41) 22-917-0123 (With cover letter requesting an immediate inquiry) M. Andre Ouelette, Ambassador to the United Foreign Minister of Canada States Raymond Chretien fax: (613) 996-8924 fax: (202) 682-7678 Governor General of Canada Aboriginal Affairs Minister M. Romeo LeBlanc of Canada, M. Cashore fax: (604) 941-7536 fax: (604) 356-1124 B.C. Premier Michael Harcourt Ontario Premier Mike Harris fax: (604) 387-0087 fax: (416) 325-3745 Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs Mary Simon fax: (613) 992-6424 CFUV: Attn Community Affairs Canadian Indian Affairs fax: (604) 721-7112 Minister, M. Irwin, fax: (819) 997-0380