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Sun Peaks Out of Skwelkwek’welt!

This Article Originally Appeared in Mawo Newsletter #12

Through the genocide of millions of Indigenous people, Canada confederated as a country in 1867. This began the legacy of the Canadian colonial plunder of Indigenous peoples’ land and resources.

Through imposing treaties and reservations in an apartheid system, Canada stole land from and displaced Indigenous people. Young generations of Indigenous children were systematically kidnapped to endure years of abuse and cultural theft in residential schools from 1620 until the last school was closed in 1996.

Beyond these legislated and systematic methods of colonial domination, Canada has shown time and again that it will use brutal military force to suppress the sovereignty of Indigenous people. This was demonstrated against Mohawk people at Oka in 1991 and against a small group of Secwepemc, or ‘Shuswap’, traditionalists at Gustafsen Lake in 1996.

The attacks that Canada makes on Indigenous people, whether in 1867 or 2006, are made for the same goal: the theft of land and resources from Indigenous people for Canadian profit.

Of the many struggles in BC, Secwepemc people have been fighting against the development and expansion of Sun Peaks Ski Resort on their unceded territory, called Skwelkwek’welt. In the last 5 years, there have been over 57 arrests of community members who were resisting this development. Today, in the BC Court of Appeal, Secwepemc community members are challenging charges that were brought against them for defending and asserting sovereignty over their territory. This struggle is one living example of the continuation of Canadian colonialism – and that the resistance of Indigenous people for self determination also continues.

Supporting Indigenous self-determination and the struggle of the Secwepemc to overcome Canada’s attacks is an obligation of all people living on stolen land. The anti-war movement must educate, organize and mobilize throughout all communities of working, poor and oppressed people in Canada in support of the demand of self-determination for Indigenous nations in Canada – to join the fight against the colonial federal government. This demand is central to building an effective movement against war and occupation and central to all struggles for social justice in Canada.