First Nations - Land Rights and Environmentalism in British Columbia

RCMP arresting Secwepemc (Adams Lake) Elder Irene Billy, Sun Peaks, British Columbia, 23 July 2001. Photo: Carie St. Pierre


Indigenous Peoples
Experience in Canada

19 - 20 June 2008
British Columbia

Panel 1: Criminalization of
Indigenous Human Rights
and Environmental

Panel 2: Impact
of Commercial and
Industrial Economics
on Traditional Values,
Knowledge and Activities

Click left for 4-page
programme - pdf


Indigenous Symposium

Well known Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein was a keynote speaker at the Indigenous Symposium held in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC) in 2008 (left). In a programmatic essay published in 2003, Klein writes: "BC's First Nation peoples have already been robbed of so much. It is the duty of all Canadians living on stolen land to join in the struggle to defend what is left." Naomi Klein: The Olympics Land Grab.


History that excludes the First Nations: colonial industry in British Columbia
Mural by Fraser WIlson, 1947 - Maritime Labour Centre, Vancouver BC


The 2008 Indigenous Symposium was held in Vancouver's Maritime Labour Centre, in a lecture room that features a historical mural painted by Fraser Wilson in 1947 (above). The mural celebrates how BC's industrial economy was built on natural resources such as timber which really were stolen property taken from its native owners. Secwepemc activist Arthur Manuel, who organized the Symposium, reminded the participants that indigenous peoples have suffered hugely due to this "disaster capitalism" that shaped BC's colonial - industrial past. Efforts to rewrite the narrative of history told by colonial settler society are fundamental to the advancement of the new movement, initiated by indigenous human rights and environmental activists (right).



Indigenous Peoples
Experience in Canada

Maritime Labour Centre
19 - 20 June 2008
British Columbia

Click right for 4-page
summary - pdf

Lilwat Elders Mary and John Williams
  A key issue raised at the Symposium are the 2010 Winter Olympics and Canada's one sided position on human rights. Arthur Manuel says: "Some people questioned why we attack the Winter Olympics when it is a sporting event. But it was clearly spelled out that once Canada applied and accepted the 2010 Winter Olympics, it accepted the scrutiny of the world on its Human Rights Record. Canada and British Columbians cannot have it be a one way street where questions regarding their Human Rights Record only apply to foreign governments." Of particular concern is that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in a report released in May 2008 fingers Native Youth Movement members as aboriginal extremists for opposing the Winter Olympics, when in truth this is just maligning legitimate FN protests over land rights and environmental degradation.  

Panel discussion

Talk by Secwepemc Janice Billy

Panel discussion


Haisla Elder Derrick Wilson

Lilwat Elder James Louie

Tsawataineuk Eric Joseph

Syilx (Okanagan) Ethan Baptiste

Babine Lake Richard Williams and Ron West

Naomi Klein and Secwepemc Dorothy Christian

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