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Sincere Opposition or Political Opportunism?: Report Back from the NDP JUMBO WILD Rally

Marilyn James - Official Sinixt Nation Spokesperson
Marilyn James - Official Sinixt Nation Spokesperson

Sincere Opposition or Political Opportunism?: Report Back from the NDP JUMBO WILD Rally

On February 5th, 2011, in Nelson BC, approximately 250 people gathered to voice their opposition to the Jumbo Glacier Resort development on unceded Sinixt Territory. The Jumbo Rally was called by Nelson/Creston NDP MLA Michelle Mungall who has recently taken up opposition to the controversial proposal. After introducing herself, Michelle Mungall began by apologizing that no local First Nations representatives could attend. At this point supporters of the Sinixt Nation shouted out, “They are here!” and “Lies!” as Sinixt spokesperson Marilyn James approached the stage. It was as if, to Mungall, the Sinixt were ghosts.

The Sinixt have been care taking Jumbo for over 12,000 years, who better to speak about protecting this sacred place?

Marilyn James took the stage, and began by explaining that they had just arrived from Vancouver where the BC Supreme Court was hearing a Judicial Review in regards to Sinixt right to consultation regarding matters pertaining to their territory. She spoke of the Attorney General's charge against the Sinixt, and challenged settler society “If you mean reconciliation . . ” to charge them back. She followed by acknowledging “true comrades”, people who have been standing with them to protect this territory for at least the last twenty years.

James spoke passionately about taking a stand for Jumbo and stated, “You can be certain that the Sinixt have signed NO agreements with the Province of British Columbia,” During James' speech a leaflet, titled A Jumbo Deception, was distributed which gave further context to her words. A photo in the leaflet showed chief negotiator of the Ktunaxa council signing a “strategic engagement agreement” with the Minister of Mines, Energy & Petroleum Resources. The same chief negotiator who made the Qat'muk Declaration to protect Jumbo, that NDP MLA Michelle Mungall touted.

One person in the crowd interrupted Mungall as she waxed poetic about the Qat'muk Declaration and stated that “the Ktunaxa chief and council are engaged in the BC Treaty Process in an attempt to claim Sovereign Sinixt Territory as their own for profit.”

Mungall responded to the disruption by stating “we are not getting involved in First Nations matters.” The content of her speech proved just the opposite. Not only is Mungall clearly involved in First Nations matters, she is complicit in the theft of Sinixt land and culture. Her public relations charade on behalf of the puppet government of the Ktunaxa Nation, who are, as we speak, carving up Sinixt territory for development, through the BC Treaty Process, tells a different story.

*** It should be noted that the Ktunaxa chief and council are not the legitimate representatives of the Ktunaxa Nation. The imposition of the Indian Act in 1876, created the chief and council system which installed an elite governing class within traditional Indigenous communities who act not in the interest of their people, but in the interest of, and under the jurisdiction of the government of Canada.

After the rally Michelle Mungall was approached by someone in the crowd who offered her the Jumbo Deception leaflet, and explained the importance of learning the history of the land on which she stood. She refused to engage in any dialogue around the issue.




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more background?

Can you give me some more background? As someone not from the west coast I'm having trouble following this story..what is Jumbo for example? What is an MLA? What is the context of this event? Thanks, tried to follow it but don't have enough backgound in this issue.

some background links

This is a great summary of Sinixt Nation recent history, regarding their court battle for recognition of their right to exist (and against a logging license, but that's almost secondary to what is really at stake in the legal battle):

Here is the Sinixt Nation Society's own website:

It can get a little confusing, since they're fighting logging, hydro dams, tourist resorts, transmission lines, their official 'extinction' by the feds, to protect Perry Ridge, to protect the 'Crown land' that is their territory, CBSA & US migra because the border crossed them, and so much more... all at the same time. I'd start on their own website and with the VMC summary by Zig Zag first, because I totally hear you re it being confusing to understand any one issue like Jumbo without a bit more background.

MLA = Member of the Legislative Assembly (so that's usually used for provincial/territorial ones, as opposed to MP Member of Parliament for feds... i think?)



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didn't see Masrour's response. yeah, that one too re Jumbo! if still confusing, try the links i posted for a more general background. :)

Jumbo Wild Rally

Because the author of this article has neglected to contact the office of MLA Michelle Mungall for comment on some of its claims, I would like to offer readers the facts.

The claim that the Sinixt were not invited to the Jumbo Rally is false. I spoke with and exchanged emails with Marilyn James in the weeks prior to February 5’s Jumbo Rally to invite her speak at the rally. Ms. James was clear that she would attend and represent the Sinixt if she were able to make it back from Vancouver and the court hearing over Perry’s Ridge. We were very appreciative of her efforts to participate in the rally.

As of the advertised noon start time for the rally, three people looked for Marilyn in the vicinity of the Central School gym, but were unable to find her. The event began as planned and it was presumed that she was, regrettably, not going to be able to attend. Mungall began to make an announcement as such, and it was only then that Marilyn arrived and was warmly welcomed to that stage.

The intention of the Jumbo Wild Rally was to bring together all those who have been involved in the  twenty year fight to keep development off Jumbo Glacier and to show that there remains strong and consistent resistance in the Kootenays to this project. As MLA Mungall said to the crowd, "Both the Sinixt and the Ktunaxa are for a Jumbo Wild, and we stand with them unequivocally."


The statement in regards to the invite of Marylin James has been edited out this article.


Some more Clarification

I was at this rally and can say that i saw Marilyn James and other Sinixt representatives at least 10 minutes before Michelle Mungall took the stage.

I too also tried to speak with Michelle after the event and she refused to talk about the Ktunaxa claims to Sinixt territory. She told me she "didn't want to get involved" and that the "Ktunaxa had rights too."

I agree that the Ktunaxa as a people are entiled to live off the land as old oral agreements with the Sinixt have stated, but the Ktunaxa Council is not entitled to claim Sinixt territory as their own for profit.

Kathyrn Teneese and the Ktunaxa Council have been invovled in the destruction of the land by supporting projects such as industrial logging and coal mining in the Elk Valley near Fernie.

Regardless if Marilyn James was invited or not, Ms. Mungall and her Secretary Laurie Langille can not stand in support of the Sinixt while their NDP government supports the Ktunaxa Council's claims and the extinction status of the Sinixt. 

As with all politicians, it is their career that comes before all else and it is their governments that impose their laws on sovereign peoples.

And I can confirm, with

And I can confirm, with photographs, that there were plenty of chairs on stage for which Marilyn could have sat in. If you would like to continue to comment on this event in a public way I would suggest contacting the MLA's office for their side of the story; which you have yet to do. 1-877-388-4498 Monday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm.


perhaps the author of this

perhaps the author of this article did not contact the MLA's office for her side of the story because the MLA is employed by the Dominion of Canada, who are responsible for the almost total annihilation of the Sinixt population and the theft and rape of their children and territory. Her suggestion that the Ktunaxa Chief and Council (who not only answer to, but were created by the Dominion of Canada) have rights to Sinixt territory is part of a greater plan aimed at extinguishing title to, and attempting to legitimize the theft of Indigenous territories across 'BC'. This is one of the current manifestations of the government of Canada's ongoing campaign of genocide against Indigenous people, of which she is a part.

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