I see that at ISTA the loggers have
rights – the roadbuilders have rights – and the logging
companies have rights. And they have the RCMP to back up their rights.
As Hereditary Chiefs and Nuxalkmc we are protecting and defending our
Forest and our land and our Rights. But there is no law enforcement
or the RCMP to enforce our Rights.
In order for us to protect and defend ISTA we have to do it ourselves.
Under the BC Treaty Commission process, loggers, road builders, logging
companies, and the RCMP are all at the negotiations table: they are
in a major conflict of interest.
We are not signing the BC Court release forms because of our principles
and morals. As Hereditary Chiefs, we cannot accept guilt on behalf
of our Nuxalk People. We cannnot sign release forms on that basis.
We cannot accept the destruction of our Forests at ISTA.
We call ourselves "political prisoners." We are opposing
the destruction of ISTA and we will not back down.
The exploiters came to ISTA to defend the colonial system that they
profit from. They took us prisoners because of our beliefs and idealism.
This is not an enforcement issue, it is a political, environmental
and human rights issue. We will stand fast for what we believe in.
As I reflect on the Stand at ISTA there
is a great feeling of success and pride. There is also a great sadness
in me: on my losses and our losses.
We faced all the adversities that were possible to face, yet we are
still here standing behind our commitments. I extend my most deep appreciation
for all your prayers and support of the Nuxalkmc.
Our spirits are strengthened since we have completed our protocol with
Forest Action Network (FAN) . We are excited to begin with our Nuxalk
campaign to protect our land, and to see old faces and meet new people.
It is encouraging to see and feel the support for ISTA from all corners
of the world. We ask that you continue this support.
I want to thank those who gave us encouragement and to those who were
present and to those who dedicated their efforts to help us.
I, Charlie Nelson, am one of the Nuxalk Nation Hereditary
Chiefs. I am currently in jail for protecting our land from destruction.
There are two other Hereditary Chiefs, Lawrence Pootlass and Edward
Moody, who are also in jail for the same reason. We are political prisoners
of the Canadian Government.
On 26 September 1995, the RCMP abducted us from our own land. They
took us by boat and by plane to politically imprison us for practising
our traditional duties. Today we had our preliminary hearing. This
is why I am not able to speak for myself. We have been placed in the
'hole' (isolation) for trying to exit the court room peacefully. We
are doing this to show people of the world the injustice that occurs
to our People. We are doing this to show that the Canadian Government
is detaining us for protecting our land. It is our duty through the
Potlatch system to protect our land.
Our songs, stories and dances remind us of these duties. Just as the
RCMP and the judges enforce their law, we must enforce our laws. We
must protect our land because it provides our medicines, foods, our
deer and fish.
The Canadian monetary system imposed on us leaves our people
80 percent unemployed. We very much depend on our Nuxalk economic
system because the Canadian system is not sufficient. Canadian
laws could help and protect us but it also criminalizes us,
depending on who is in control of the system and whom they
uphold. Today the law upholds Interfor (International Forest
Products) because of national interest and economic sense – not because of justice.