In the Network: Media Co-op Dominion   Locals: HalifaxMontrealTorontoVancouver

Support the VMC, donate today!


Vancouver - Chilliwack

Court Support ~Cheam Fishers Against the DFO~ Tuesday March 9th

Denise Douglas requests your support in their fight against Canada's attempt at forced assimilation

Tuesday March 9 2010

Venue: Chilliwack Law Courts
Address: Meeting Place at 7AM : Safeway parking lot (broadway and commercial) Destination : 46085 Old Yale Road Chilliwack
Cost: Donation

In Vancouver, meet at 7 am at the Safeway Parking Lot (Broadway and
Commercial) for carpool. If you have a vehicle and can help with
transportation please email; if you would like a ride
please email (please do RSVP to guarantee a spot and
for us to have a sense of how many rides are needed).

Report Back From Cheam vs. DFO
Information about the Current Attack of
the Canadian State against the Pilalt People of Cheam, Sto:lo; Coast Salish Territory
December 2009

A Little Backround to the Mountain Goat People Pilalt indigenous people from the village at Cheam are called "the mountain goat people" because of an ancestral teaching and the right to hunt the animal is passed down in certain families. One of the most prominent mountains along the Fraser River is Mount Cheam, which marks the Pilalt Territory of the Cheam people. This small community has a long history of protest actions against the encroachment of their Aboriginal Title and Rights by fishing, logging and development. The Cheam Indian Band is one of 30 First Nations communities in the lower Fraser watershed many of which are represented by the Sto:lo Nation.

The traditional way of life of the Sto:lo came under seige when gold was
discovered in 1858 and the Fraser River was invaded by miners. One of the earliest representations of its First Nations inhabitants was painted in 1868 and depicts two dugout canoes made from cedar trees, one with a sail. The idyllic scene does not reflect the horrific war of extermination waged by the miners on the Sto:lo and their neighbours further up the Fraser Canyon, the Nlaka'pamux. Nor does it show the mercury poisoning and blasting from mining that destroyed riparian salmon habitat and diminished the aboriginal fishing resources.

The first settlers arrived by steampowered paddlewheelers. In 1864 the
colonial authorities began to impose the reserve system on the Sto:lo which allowed settlers to preempt unceded untreatied Sto:lo land and take over Sto:lo fisheries. Sto:lo territories were bisected by a road in 1873, followed by the Canadian Pacific Railroad which was completed in 1888. (This railroad runs directly through the Cheam reserve, at times as close as 25 feet from people's houses).

The lower Fraser Canyon beginning at Yale was the most densely populated place on the Northwest Coast due to the extraordinary fecundity of its aboriginal fishery. The ancient and complex system of fishing rights that had evolved here was violated in 1858 when tens of thousands of gold seeking Europeans invaded and provoked the infamous Fraser Canyon War.

In 1878 the federal government imposed its restrictive Fisheries Act; in 1884 it banned the potlatch ceremony by which fishing rights were decided; and in 1888 it criminalized fishing without a license. More oppressive rules accompanied the opening up of BC to mass immigration that occurred in 1885 with the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Its passage through the Fraser Canyon resulted in the destruction of aboriginal burial grounds, fisheries and villages. Til this day, the Pilalt people have never signed a treaty with Canada.


In the summer of 2000, the Cheam blockaded provincial roads that cross
their land demanding that the government stop encroaching on their territory and act to resolve the Cheam land claims. The dispute concerned a 25 square mile area that has been encroached upon by the Canadian National railway, British Columbia Hydro power lines, highway construction, and a gas pipe line. Ferry Island is still contested Cheam land.

In 2003, several Pilalt were arrested after blockading the railroad through
the Cheam Reserve to protest against the logging taking place on Mount Cheam in preparation for a massive Resorts West project, slated as a 2010 venue. Due to the resistance this plan was not completed.

Also in 2003, the DFO came onto reserve [despite an agreement to announce their arrival and abide by a certain protocol] and proceeded to assault then Chief Sidney Douglas. They have pressed numerous charges against the people of Cheam for 'illegal fishing'. People are often harressed on the river, during open fishing time and closed, with DFO officers performing high speed chases on the water and ramming native fisher's boats, pulling weapons, and physically assaulting people.

~if you eat foods that are processed and controlled, then you are easy to be controlled, when you eat wild, you remain wild and free~
`Secwepemc Warrior

Very few treaties were ever signed in British Columbia, a state self imposed precursor to legislative power over an area of original people. Despite historic resistance by the Pilalts to interference in their internal affairs, the Government of Canada launched a program of social control and cultural extinguishment through the imposition of the Band Council System. The Pilalt's are still in conflict with the Canadian State, and it's coastal indigenous policing tool: the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)

Recently, Denise Douglas of Cheam appeared in Chilliwack Court defending herself and the six remaining members of Cheam all charged with illegal fishing. Their charges stem back to 2000. This is the small number that remains in the case, despite numerous individuals being charged. Most people settled out of court for a measly $150 fine preferring to avoid the long, intimidating court case, financial hardship, and the cultural alienation of dealing with the Government of Canada.

But Denise is fighting the State and asserting that;
~ DFO cannot close the river
~They have inherent right to the fish,
~And, their title and land has never been ceded.
The trial has been recessed until March
9th, 2010 at the Chilliwack Courts.
Supporters are encouraged to come
witness the trial, and learn more
about the struggle in Cheam.
Contact Denise Douglas

Supporting Land Defenders in court is not advocating one tactic over another. We need to spread the struggle out of the reserves and the courts, until it permeates every aspect of our lives, until we all are truly free.

Join the Vancouver Media Co-op today. Click here to learn about the benefits of membership.

User login