MAC: Mines and Communities

RCMP Poised to Arrest Tahltan Elders and Youth at the Klappan Blockade

Published by MAC on 2005-09-05

RCMP Poised to Arrest Tahltan Elders and Youth at the Klappan Blockade

For Immediate Release Tahltan Traditional Territory

September 5, 2005

On September 3 a court injunction and enforcement order was delivered to the Tahltan people at the Klappan Blockade. The court was held over 2000 miles away in Vancouver with very short notice. The RCMP will be moving in on Tuesday, September 6, to enforce the order. To add insult to injury Garry Merckel, Appointed President of the TNDC and Curtis Rattray, Chair, Tahltan Central Council have signed affidavits in support of the order. This illustrates, the blatant disrespect of the people who live on the land.

On July 16, Tahltan Nation members and Elders began a blockade of the Klappan Road. One of many political actions taken to regain control over traditional lands and resources in the vast, pristine Tahltan Territory. Since, the Tahltan Nation Elders Sit-in began in Telegraph Creek on January 17, Tahltan Nation members have taken responsibility over land and resources. A moratorium statement was released in February to stop resource development until certain conditions are met. The lack of consultation over resources sparked the original stand off. One of the most recent actions, was a wildcat walkout of Tahltan Nation Development Corporation employees demanding resignation of the President. This led to the resignation of Jerry Asp shortly after the walk out.

Elder Jenny Quock, has been on the blockade for the past 7 weeks. Jenny says, "It's confusing when they can treat us like criminals, for defending our rights and our land. The real criminals are government and industry for destroying what does not belong to them." The elders led a prayer with the defenders of the land, guests and supporters as night fell upon the camp last night. The light of the campfire gives us hope each night and we discuss new ideas and encourage one another. Young men work around the camp in the day to prepare wood, water and do their chores.

We all know what this country was built upon. This is the stark reality of Aboriginal People in a country that continues to ignore their fundamental human rights. When our women elders sing and beat the drum, we feel the connection with our ancestors and Mother Earth. Whatever happens in the next 48 hours will not define us a People. We will continue to define ourselves and it is in this realization we find Peace.

Dempsey Quock a young man who grew up on the outside, values what he has learned from our Elders. As he works throughout the day he takes breaks to ask questions and make comments. What he is learning is what we are fighting for. The right to determine our future and the right to practise our ways and pass it on to future generations. Dempsey can be heard saying to our elders, " Our rights are human rights, everyone in the world has the right to practise their culture and spiritual ways. He goes on to state that, "If we lose Klappan I will not have the opportunity to learn what was taken from me at a young age. We thank everyone who has come to support us. We pray for your safety and ours.

For more information contact Rhoda Quock at 250-234-3023 or peterandrhoda@yt.sympatico

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