peaceful protest at Sun Peaks Village, B.C., June 25 was broken up by
an attack on a 24-year-old Secwepmec woman by a local resident.
About 20 members of the Native Youth Movement walked through the village singing traditional Native songs and voicing their firm stance against development on Skwelkwek'welt (Sun Peaks). Several white men were sitting on a restaurant terrace, said to be drinking and shouting racial slurs at the protestors.
One of the men walked off the terrace and approached the Native Youth shouting, "F___ing Indians, get off our land!" and "You want war? Come on!" He swung several punches in the direction of the young men, then directed his attention to Nicole Manuel, shouting at her and, finally, punching her in the face.
Nicole Manuel found herself arrested "for mischief". She has refused a government offer to leave jail if she promises not to return to Skwelkwek'welt. Her colleagues in the Native Youth Movement describe her stand as "a heroic act of freedom".
The man who assaulted her was permitted to return to Sun Peaks with no such restriction.
"They have targeted Nicole Manuel because she is one of the leaders of the Native Youth Movement," says Chief Arthur Manuel of the Neskonlith Indian Band. "This is obviously political."
This was only the latest incident since Sun Peaks filed a new injunction against the protestors at McGilliveray Lake one week previous. Native Youth Movement member Amanda Soper says drunken whites had come up to the protest camp at the lake to harass them several times in the past week.
"So far the RCMP have done nothing," says Soper. "They seemed content to let this harassment continue to the point today where our people are facing physical assault."
Sun Peaks' recent injunction forbids protestors from wearing army surplus clothing, erecting bark houses, even erecting a sign.
"At the same time," Soper says, "drunken whites are free to drive to and from the lake to use extra-legal measures to harass protestors. This is not a double standard -- this is the old standard: White is right and tell the Indians to go back to their reserves."
The Youth view these actions as hate crime that is being tolerated, even promoted by the RCMP and Sun Peaks, from whom they say they receive continual harassment. They are also harassed by provincial and federal governments who do not recognise their claim to Aboriginal Title to Skwelkwek'welt.
"Today we find ourselves under the same attack as our ancestors did, with horse carriages and wagons still making tracks of destruction of our natural resources and way of life," says Soper. "As we observed one of these carriages going by in Sun Peaks Village yesterday, we did as our ancestors have always done in reminding the non-Natives that they are on Secwepemc Territory and that has never been sold or surrendered. We walked beside the carriage and sang our traditional songs and prayed for the immediate halt of the destruction of this land. Those who believe they can break our People's spirits with their wanton attacks are gravely mistaken."