Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lil'wat, St'at'imc UN Indigenous Permanent Forum

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 Líl’wat, St’át’imc, in New York at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

By Lil'wat, St'at'imc
Vancouver, BC
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NEW YORK -- A delegation from Líl’wat, St’át’imc, is attending the 10th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, USA, from May 16 to 27, 2011. Lil’wat is one indigenous community of eleven within St’at’imc (STAT-lee-uhm), about 150 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The St’at’imc, otherwise known as the Lillooet Tribe, are a sovereign nation.
The delegation brings news of two serious actions they are taking to protect themselves from Canada and British Columbia’s incursions on their aboriginal title, rights and freedoms, and self-determination.

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The first is a petition to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. This petition complains of repercussions of the lack of treaty between either Líl’wat or St’át’imc with Canada; repercussions which include the imposition of the Indian Act on St’át’imc citizens. Petition 879-07, Loni Edmonds v. Canada, was accepted on July 13, 2007, and has still not been reviewed. This petition speaks principally to the lack of treaty between the sovereign nation of St’at’imc, particularly the independent community of Lil’wat, and Canada. The key issue which brings the petition forth is British Columbia’s indiscriminate and wholly destructive practice of seizing our children and removing them to non-indigenous homes. This is in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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 The second issue they bring forward is the recent progress of the “St’át’imc Settlement Agreement with BC Hydro” and the province of British Columbia. This Final Agreement with the public utility BC Hydro Power Corp. has been rejected by a number of concerned citizens for many reasons which fall into two categories: the Agreement itself is inadequate, and the process by which the elected Chiefs manufactured its ratification is an offense to traditional St’át’imc governance and even failed to adhere to their own ratification procedures. Construction of dams and generating facilities in St’at’imc territory, to say nothing of the high voltage powerlines and substations, has caused irreparable harm to the St’at’imc way of life. We wonder if, in fact we suspect that, the elected Chiefs were under some sort of duress.

The people will be orienting themselves in the international forum to see how their complaints against Canada may be made better known internationally, and resolutions supported. They will also be encouraging the debate at the Permanent Forum to turn to matters of treaty, or the lack of which, and the culpability of colonial states who deny recognition to the indigenous nations whose lands and peoples they have co-opted.

Having exhausted the “domestic remedies” available in Canada, the petitioners seek protection from Canada’s persistent interference in their families, communities and in the larger St’át’imc nation socially, politically and economically.

They also seek recourse for the ongoing violence against themselves, homelands and their entire way of life. Since provisions in the Canada-legislated Indian Act, 1876, restricting freedom of travel, meeting to discuss the “land question,” and retention of legal counsel were lifted in 1959, Líl’wat and other St’át’imc have been pursuing justice in BC and Canadian courts – where their cases have been improperly thrown out, left unfinished, or concluded unsatisfactorily- ie., thrown out of court when St’at’imc Hereditary Chiefs demand evidence of Canada or British Columbia’s extinguishment of the St’at’imc title and right. Canada cannot provide this evidence because it does not exist. The courts seem to defer to Canada.

The Líl’wat delegation is releasing this news to the press in hopes that it will be reported as presented for the education of all residents of colonial occupations on indigenous lands.

Please read our written submission to the UN PFII 10th session. Líl’wat, also known as Mt Currie, located north of Whistler, is a St’át’imc community.
Read, download or print statement at:
or the statement at:

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