Sinixt Slhu7kin’ – Perry Ridge Wilderness Preserve
Court Rulings Story 42

Sinixt Slhu7kin’ – Perry Ridge Wilderness Preserve

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John Ahni Schertow
March 4, 2011
 

“We the Sinixt Nation, also known as the Arrow Lake Indians, declare that Perry’s Ridge is within the traditional territory of the Sinixt Peoples and holds special ecological and cultural heritage significance. From this time forward the Sinixt decree Perry’s Ridge to be maintained and protected as: Sinixt Slhu7in’ – Perry Ridge Wilderness Preserve.”

March 4, 2011 – Following the BC Supreme Court’s decision to deny the Sinixt Nation’s right to be consulted on a new logging project within their traditional territory, Slocan Valley locals and supporters of the Sinixt have re-established the Slu7kin “Perry Ridge Protection Camp” south of the town of Slocan, British Colombia.

The camp was first established by the Sinixt Nation and supporters on October 26, 2010, in an effort “to protect the rich bio-diversity on Perry Ridge and the collective domestic watershed interests of the Perry Ridge community.”

The protection camp, which doubled as a road block, was called off three weeks later, after the Supreme Court issued an injunction order preventing Sunshine logging from operating within the Sinixt’s Traditional Territory, until the Sinixt’s constitutional application could be considered.

The latest Supreme Court ruling dismissed that application, essentially, on the grounds that the Sinixt do not posses any legal standing as a “First Nation” in Canada.

As reported on the Vancouver Media Co-op, “Sunshine Logging Ltd, of Kaslo BC, responded within a few days after the ruling by beginning to plow the snow from the road. Locals responded quickly and moved in to prevent the machine from operating.”

At the moment, the Sinixt do not appear to be involved with the protection camp, as they are still waiting for the Supreme Court’s written ruling. Once that ruling becomes available, the Sinixt are planning to file an appeal and seek “an interim order prohibiting logging and/or road building pending the determination of the appeal”.

In the meantime, the Sinixt are encouraging supporters to head down to the protection camp, located just south of the town of Slocan BC, 7km up the Little Slocan South Forest Service Road.

View Slhu7kin Perry Ridge Protection Camp in a larger map

If you can’t make it out to the protection camp, supporters are encouraged to sign this petition in support of the Sinixt Nation’s right to consultation and the establishment of the Sinixt Slhu7kin’ Perry Ridge Wilderness Preserve.

Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/fb/takeaction/852/110/793/

On March 3, 2011, the Sinixt also released the following statement:

Sinixt Nation
RR 1, G-16, C-2
Winlaw, V0G 2J0

Sinixt nation would like to take this opportunity to make a statement in regard to the Perrys Ridge issue and recent decision by his honour Judge Willcock.

We, the named petitioners in these proceedings, hold positions and responsibility related to the work of the sinixt peoples. The positions that we hold are an agreement between us and the elders who asked us first to bring ancestral remains back and rebury them, to protect burial sites and then eventually to uphold the sinixt laws of this land that is the whuplak’n. This agreement and responsibilities were initiated, directed and led by the council of elders for over two decades.

The laws:
The whuplak’n is a sinixt word meaning ‘law of the land’. the whuplak’n is the sinixt law that dictates responsibilities to the land and all of the things of the land animate and inanimate for all time to be upheld by the peoples of the land. In the beginning of time all peoples were given a territory (the sinixt territory, in contemporary times, includes the Columbia mountain range above Revelstoke BC to the north, the height of the Monashee mountain range to the west, the height of the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges to the east, and below the Kettle Falls area in Washington state). The landscape and the resources of the landscape dictate the responsibilities under the whuplak’n. The basic tenants of the whuplak’n are steeped in the reverence and respect one must apply to all resources and requires a stewardship and sustainability consideration to the seventh generation into the future. One cannot deviate, eliminate or alter their responsibilities to the whuplak’n, it in all effects becomes a way of life and state of being.

Under the whuplak’n is another sinixt law called smum iem which is a sinixt word meaning ‘belongs to the women’. sinixt culture holds a matrilineal dictate. under that dictate sinixt women hold an express responsibility to the cultural, human community and territorial landscape that exceeds all others. The sinixt women are the holders of the culture, the territory and the laws. A sinixt woman may not deviate, eliminate or alter their responsibilities to the whuplak’n under smum iem, it in all effects becomes a way of life and state of being.

Sinixt position:
The sinixt acknowledge contemporary non-sinixt laws exist and are a part of the life dictates of every person who exists in the present. We also acknowledge that these law forms have treated communities, individuals and the landscape with certain levels of acrimony. Contemporary laws do not accept, respect, uphold or allow for cultural laws to be adhered to by either cultural authorities or beings nor those citizens of the land who would choose cultural laws and dictates to territory even though they may not hold cultural authority. We are not stating that contemporary laws are vicious but simply lack the sophistication that would tie laws to the present and future well being of all of it’s citizens and landscape to which it applies. Even though contemporary laws hold certain authorities it does not hold the authority to over ride, decrease, or eliminate sinixt responsibility and adherence to the whuplak‘n or smum iem.

Judge Willcock decision:
Judge Willcock gave oral reasons for the Perry Ridge proceedings on Friday February 25th, 2011. The sinixt and their legal counsel, Mr. David Aaron, listened to the oral reasons through a telephone conference call. Given the difficulty to hear all of the reasons with confidence in the clarity of what one hears and misses hearing the sinixt have reserved any in depth comments about the decision until we can read the transcripts and have confidence that our statements truly reflect the nuances of the decision. The sinixt are planning on appealing the decision and will comment further in respect to the appeal as that stance is developed and engaged. The sinixt will state that our interests in consultation were of importance to the safety and well being of our broader community and reflect serious environmental impacts. Judge Willcock’s decision could have included a work stay given the evidence and support of the larger community and reflect issues of critical and irreparable concern. Leaving these critical interests vulnerable and compromised has revealed a fault within the legal system that allows for continued destruction of interests while narrower and more complex questions of law find their way through the courts.

Support:
The sinixt would like to thank all of those who support our work and have committed themselves to the landscape and resources within sinixt territory with love and dedication. We would also like to thank all of those citizens who support and work for social/environmental/cultural healing and reconciliation. We ask all citizens to cast their eyes toward contemporary systems (like courts and ministries) and to challenge those systems to begin upholding their responsibilities to insure/question/challenge that they are acting in an accountable fashion. We believe that the citizens of Canada wish to create a social fabric that reflects their interests and values as human beings existing in a cultural collective. We believe that contemporary systems have failed to reflect those values and are not acting in good faith to their citizens and are in violation of their public authority. We ask that you contact all ministries and public officials to this regard. We assure you that we will continue to express our interests as is required to uphold our responsibilities to our cultural laws of the whuplak’n and smum iem. We would like to express our regret that a negative decision by Judge Willcock toward the sinixt has left your safety and quality of life at risk. The sinixt will continue to support the local community and are asking that you will continue to support our work as well. The sinixt are also in a vulnerable position as we move forward to prove that as the petitioners we represent the interests of the sinixt peoples in an honourable, transparent and accountable manner. We welcome all of your support in your fashion, however, please make sure that all support written or otherwise is in solidarity and support and not as a representative of the sinixt. Any and all official or formal statements will come from any of the named petitioners or legal counsel for the sinixt nation. Lim limpt…marilyn james/appointed spokesperson

For background and more information, please visit: http://sinixtnation.org, perryridge.org, territoriesoffreedom.wordpress.com, and youtube.com/sinixtmedia

Updates are also regularly posted at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sinixt-Nation/255421804460

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