Re: Re-ban RJ!

Al Patenaude (patenaud@SFU.CA)
Fri, 1 Sep 1995 14:23:30 -0700

Robert Johnson wrote:
> Why don't you give us your opinion about why the Shuswap Nation
> is shooting it out with the RCMP?
> That is, if you feel its safe to voice your opinion while considering
> your future in the criminal "justice" system.

I have no problem voicing my opinion concerning the criminal acts
of a few individuals who have barricaded themselves on private property but
I would not attribute those same actions to the Shuswap Nation.

If this were the actions of Shuswap Nation I could be more accepting of
some or most of the activities which have taken place recently, however,
they were not. I make these comments for the following reasons:

1. The individuals behind the barricades have rejected the authority, advice
and leadership of Shuswap elders and leaders at both the Band and Tribal
Council levels and that of the Assembly of First Nations;

2. These same individuals have rejected the authority of both provincial
and federal governments;

3. These rather unorganized individuals lack a clearly definable political
agenda and popular support from within the Shuswap Nation;

4. No government in exile or in waiting has claimed affiliation with them;

5. The participants seem more concerned about immunity from criminal charges
and sanctions from a government whose authority they reject than they are
about attaining a political goal.

Interesting enough, the definition of a renegade includes numbers 1 and 2,
while that of a terrorist/freedom fighter includes numbers 3 and 4. Number
5 is more in line with the concerns of a spur of the moment hostage-taker.
So which classification appears to fit best? These actions are not seen
to be supported by the Shuswap Nation, but I speak only for myself rather
than for them.

As for the actions of the criminal justice system vis-a-vis Aboriginal
peoples in Canada, I would hardly call the system fair but it is making
small-scale attempts to become more amenable to this part of the population.
The current situation has seen remarkable restraint on the part of the
RCMPolice. No one wants to see a repeat of the Oka crisis of 1990.
As to the fairness of the criminal justice system, one has to look at the
statistics concerning Aboriginal peoples in conflict with the law.
Incarceration of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian prisons is between 17-19%
nationally while Aboriginal peoples comprise only 2.5% of the overall
popualtion. In its attempts to treat everyone euqitably, the system has
discriminated against a segment of the population which is clearly at a
disadvantage.... sorry, but for getting long-winded but this is the topic
of my dissertation.

Perhaps, RJ, you could come up here and visit local First Nations and
the Shuswap Nation, in particular, before you attribute the actions of
a few to the Nation as a whole... say, weren't those bombers in Oklahoma
typical Americans fighting for their individual rights in the face of the
omnipotent state and its apparatus for oppression? Rhetoric and discourse
can cut both ways! Take Care.

Al Patenaude
School of Criminology
Simon Fraser University email: