Ghillar, Michael Anderson 24 June 2016 (London)
At Skatsin in British Columbia, Canada, I met recently with Grand Chief, Stewart Phillip of the Okanagan Nation, who is President of Union of British Columbian Indian Chiefs. Also present was Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band within the Secwepmculucw Nation, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Chief Wayne Christian, along with an international observer, Oni Kirwin, a native Fijian. The Secwepmculucw Nation in the modern Canadian language is pronounced Shuswup. After almost a century and a half, Chief Judy Wilson said: "It is an insult by the Canadians to never bother to learn the correct pronunciation."
This very important meeting was about forging alliances of Native Peoples within the Pacific Rim, who have been affected by British imperialism and invasion of our lands. The discussions focused primarily on the fact that like us in Australia, the Okanagan and Secwepmculucw Nations and others have never had war declared upon them, nor were they ever defeated by the British in any aggressive conflicts. Unlike other Canadian and Turtle Island Nations they have never negotiated any Treaties in any form, for any reason. They remain unceded sovereign Nations with many independent bands, who also refuse to talk Treaty with the Canadian government. These Nations are known as the non-Treaty Nations.
There are 110 non-Treaty Nations in Canada.
The Union of BC Chiefs alerted us to the recent moves by the Canadian government to 'modernise the treaties', which, in effect, will promote assimilation of the Treaty Nations in Canada and will ultimately lead to total extinguishment of their rights to their lands, waters and natural resources, while giving them a restricted program of self-government, which will be partly governed by imposed Canadian law and a watered down version of native customary law. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs consider this Treaty-making formula will subjugate and assimilate the native population - a fate they are determined to resist at all costs
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Okanagan said:
The mandate of the federal land claims negotiations are still severely limited and restricted, particularly the requirement to extinguish Aboriginal Title that violates international human rights standards and does not meet the minimum standards enshrined in the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples.
Chief Judy Wilson added:
Globally there has been an increased debate about legal pluralism and Indigenous jurisdiction. In Latin American their principles are included in their constitutions. Further debates about international human rights standards or the national constitution, are needed. Canada has unilaterally introduced a series of policies with so many exclusions and limitations that the only model the Canadian government is willing to accept is one of delegated authority that puts Indigenous authority under provincial or federal control. Canada has a misconception when it says, its acceptance of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, is sufficient a commitment to Aboriginal rights, however, we have to be wary of Canada's unilateral approaches.
Previously Chief Arthur Manuel, Chair Interior Alliance and spokesman, Indigenous Network on Economics and Trade (INET), submitted to the UN a status report and analysis of the Canadian Land Claims Policy and British Columbian Treaty process dated 1 October 2006. He reminded the UN that the current Treaty process is a model of extinguishment:
C. United Nations: Modified Rights Model Is Extinguishment
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in their concluding observations in 2006 felt that the modified rights model and the non-assertion model did not differ from extinguishment and surrender approach.16. The Committee, while noting that the State party has withdrawn, since 1998, the requirement for an express reference to extinguishment of Aboriginal rights and titles either in a comprehensive claim agreement or in the settlement legislation ratifying the agreement, remains concerned that the new approaches, namely the "modified rights model" and the "non-assertion model", do not differ much from the extinguishment and surrender approach. It further regrets not having received detailed information on other approaches based on recognition and coexistence of rights, which are currently under study.
[Economic and Social Council, Future E/C.12/CAN/CO/5, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Thirty-sixth session, 1-19 May 2006 ]
It is also very important to note that the Committee also regretted the fact that Canada did not provide any "detailed information on other approaches based on recognition and coexistence of rights". This is regrettable but is to be expected as long as Canada can continue to have indigenous peoples negotiate under the existing extinguishment policy. Only through stopping negotiating will Canada have to change its policy.
Chief Arthur Manuel continued:
Aboriginal peoples from across Canada felt that after the Delgamuukw decision in 1997 recognized Aboriginal Title as our inherent land rights, it would have been very important to review the Comprehensive Claims to reflect that Aboriginal Title was judicially recognized this and to develop a new policy based on recognition and coexistence of Crown and Aboriginal Title. The Minister repudiated this idea and the present government has not demonstrated any substantive effort to change this position. Giving those nations, such as the members of the Interior Alliance who are not in the BC Treaty Process no option to ensure the protection of their rights through a negotiation process.The Delgamuukw decision, of the Supreme Court of Canada, did not award Aboriginal title to any First Nation in Canada. Instead, it established a legal test for proving Aboriginal title on a case-by-case basis. I would note that the tripartite BCTC process is consistent with one of the main recommendations in the Delgamuukw decision, namely, that negotiation is the preferred way to effect a reconciliation of the interests of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians and to achieve certainty with respect to the use and ownership of lands and resources. From my perspective, it is regrettable that the Interior Alliance has chosen to distance itself from the BCTC process in spite of repeated overtures from federal and provincial leaders and their senior officials.
[ Letter from The Honourable Robert D. Nault, P.C., M.P. Minister of Indian Affairs to Chief Arthur Manuel, Chair Interior Alliance, December 22, 2000 ]
The Chiefs at Skatsin were very interested in our approach of asserting our pre-existing and continuing sovereignty through Unilateral Declarations of Independence (UDIs). When introducing me to the meeting, Chief Judy Wilson pointed out that: "When Ghillar reached out across the Pacific to meet with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, he said that he only wanted to meet with the Sovereign Peoples of the land in BC." They agreed, that this was a unique experience in having someone take the initiative to unite the world of Aboriginal Peoples who retain their sovereign independent status and who have not yielded voluntarily or militarily to the illegal colonial occupiers of our lands. Our resolve to this date to fight off this occupation of our lands has been hard fought. Many deaths have resulted, which continues to this day.
It was pointed out that, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs also chose not to be engaged with the United Nations non-Native authorised Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII). Like many of us in Australia the personnel chosen to be representatives on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues are first approved of and then signed off by the colonial power of UN Member State from which they come. The criticism of this methodology, is that the many Nations who retain their sovereign independence and identity, never get the chance to have their own representatives on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, because the representation at the high level is controlled by the member States of the UN. The complaint that we all have is that the persons who end up on this UN body are not true grassroots representatives of the Nations and Peoples themselves. This democratic right is denied Aboriginal Peoples around the world yet the UN purports to promote and represent true democratic and diplomatic principles, while we, First Peoples of the world are denied due process in respect of democratic representation by the fact that the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues consists of one representative per region and the regions are based on the papal Bull decrees when the Pope divided the world up in the 15th & 16th centuries, which continues to rule the governing mindset around the world to this day .
Additionally, we are horrified that the public is not aware that the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues fails to allow the First Nations delegates the right to freedom of speech and expression. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, discourage any criticism or condemnation of the State within which they reside. There are those who do attend as participants and observers, who do make efforts to express the true situation of their Peoples. We understand however, that the process of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is such that very few, if any, of these criticisms and condemnations are ever registered within the proceedings documents. In the history of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues we are aware that when First Nations Peoples seek to express their dissent with regards to the control mechanisms of the process, the meeting is quickly closed and UN security is called to control participants.
I recall being present in a meeting in Geneva in 2005 when it was made clear by representatives of the UN that the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues would be primarily focused on developmental matters around the world. We were led to understand that the agenda items of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues would be essentially dictated to by the agendas of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), an organisation that precluded any NGO representation or voices of opposition to international development.
As Sovereign First Nations Peoples, it is not incumbent upon us to participate in such a flawed and fraudulent process. If we argue and declare that we are pre-existing and continuing sovereign Nations, then it should not be to the colonisers' institutions that we should be turning to. We are independent from this and to engage in the process is to recognise their fraudulent and illegal power. We must remember that the United Nations majority Member States are former British colonies.
On the other hand, we acknowledge that we must continually have dialogue with senior officials of the UN to ensure that their attention is focused on our assertions as pre-existing and continuing Sovereign Nations and Peoples.
It was not until the success of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples Conference held in Canberra in 1981, hosted by the National Aboriginal Conference (NAC), that the UN orchestrated a World Conference of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) at the UN in Geneva in July 1981. Unfortunately this led to the demise of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, an organisation founded by the late Chief George Manuel of the Secwepmculucw Nation. It was subverted by the colonial powers within the UN.
To their credit some Member States of the United Nations understand that there is a need internationally to address the consequences of the imperialist expansions and the consequences of the scourge of colonialism worldwide.
During our talks with the Chiefs at the Skatsin meeting, an agreement was reached to look at further dialogue with a view of establishing the Pacific Alliance of Native Peoples. We agree that the resources of Canada, Australia, Fiji and other Pacific Nations, have contributed to the wealth and well-being of Britain and we have floundered for centuries in poverty and squalor, which has resulted in the premature death of hundreds and thousands of our people. Moreover, many of our people were made slaves; experienced generations of child removal for government-sanctioned child slavery, known as 'indentured labour'; assimilation through residential schools and government-controlled mission stations; and blackbirding in the case of the Pacific Islands in the southern hemisphere.
England and Canada had all these laws sanctioned by Britain through the Privy Council's advice to the monarch, based on the recommendations from these Ministers of State of the Crown. In fact, in Australia the Commonwealth government rules in right of the Crown and not of the Australian people, so that every piece of Federal legislation has to receive royal assent through the Governor-General, as the Queen's proxy, before the law comes into force.
Our Native Fijian brothers and sisters express grave concerns about the legitimacy of the existing Nation State of Fiji, because, it is recorded and openly acknowledged, that HRH Elizabeth II's recommendations were ignored at the time of Fijian Independence, 10 October 1970. She apparently attempted to remain true to the Deed of Cession, dated 1874, by insisting that the sovereignty of Fiji was to be assigned back to the hereditary heirs and successors of the signatory Chiefs to the original Deed of Cession.
Instead, the British Parliament chose to transfer the ceded country to the elected parliament of Fiji that was created by the British themselves for their own purposes at the time. The clear choice of the British Parliament was not to return power and sovereignty back to the hereditary chiefs through the Grand Council of Chiefs, but rather maintained the British imperialist and Westminster parliamentary system, not only against the will of the Queen herself, but also against the will of the native Fijian population.
The native Fijians are now under extreme threat from having their lands and resources forcefully expropriated from them under the new 2013 Constitution, which imposed an illegal regime. The constitution of 2013 was written by the military coup regime under the coup leadership of PM, Bainimarama. This military junta did not have a public mandate to re-write the Fijian constitution nor did the Military Junta have the free prior and informed consent of the Native population to do so.
The sham election of 2014 was observed by the international community under the leadership of Australia. Prior to the 2013 Constitution, seventeen repugnant decrees were passed by the military coup regime that specifically intended to dismantle and dismember the native Fijian race, through an enforced and intensive assimilation program.
The former Resident Justice of Appeal in Fiji, Justice William Roberts Marshall, QC, SC, had his contract terminated by Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaium, when he continued to uphold the rule of law in Fiji against the demands of Khaium. Justice Marshall, in his petition to the Prime Minister Bainimarama, recommended:
You must dismiss the Attorney General or pass the reigns of power to the Military who will.
Justice Marshall's reasoning was that:... the Attorney General had completely made the judiciary a corrupt agency of the Executive ... in destroying the independence of the judiciary there is now no rule of law in Fiji.
[ The Petition of Justice William Roberts Marshall, QC, SC, Resident Justice of Appeal in Fiji since 16 July 2010 dated 21 June 2012 ]
This was confirmed by the 2012 British Law Society Report, which stated that there is now no rule of law in Fiji. Under the subheading 'Attorney General' the Report states that:
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaium is the Attorney General, the intellectual muscle of the regime and holds:... portfolio of Minister of Justice, Anti-Corruption, Public Enterprise, Industry and Trade, civil Aviation and Tourism and Communications. He receives a salary for each portfolio.
Under conclusions the Report states at 15.1:The Rule of Law no longer operates in Fiji
[ Fiji: The Rule of Law lost, Report by the Law Society Charity, January 2012 ]
The US Human Rights Report on Fiji identified the blatant breaches of Human Rights in Fiji and in the 2014 general election that was monitored by an international observer team, headed by Australia, who claimed that the election was 'fair and just', but it was known to be rigged from the evidence of those who were employed to rig that election. It is reported by some of the actual participants that the evidence was quickly destroyed straight after the elections, but lives on in the minds of those who have fled Fiji and have told their story. They have now fled Fiji for their own safely because, like the evidence, they too may be destroyed and disappeared.
Many native Fijians condemn the election process and are raising awareness that the military rule of Fiji orchestrated a cleverly disguised election to maintain power and thereby create a national citizenry that denounces any native Fijian nationality. This government objective will bring about the absolute demise of the ancient Chieftainship and hereditary landholdings, and which will ultimately extinguish all Native Fijian rights including their ownership of clan and territorial lands, waters and natural resources.
It is to Britain that collectively we must turn to resolve these dilemmas. By forging strong alliances between the First Nations Peoples of the former British colonies within the Pacific Rim we must find our own solutions in an endeavour to end the devastation, dislocation, death and desecration of ancient knowledge, cultures and spirituality caused by the colonial British Empire, for it is Britain which must account for the devastation caused by their colonial regime from the 15th century onwards. The devastation and trauma continues to linger to this day and it is not the UN whose responsibility it is, but rather Britain.
It cannot be ignored that the UN has assisted in many ways to formulate templates for solutions. It is Britain, which must now face its colonised Peoples to bring about an effective and long-lasting peaceful and just settlement for the colonial wrongdoings.
In order to achieve a peaceful and ever-lasting solution, the monarch and her parliament in the United Kingdom must assume total responsibility for the convening of an international conference to negotiate and locate a pathway to a just end to the scourge of its colonial regime 'in all its manifestations'. This will be achieved by the United Kingdom convening an international summit of its colonising States and the colonised to draft a formula for settlement, through an agreed program of reparation and restitution. The occupying powers of our lands are the sum total and product of the evil and scourge of colonialism.