Secwepemc Chiefs Want Reconciliation and Justice for Families Impacted by Current Child Welfare System and Indian Residential School Day Scholars


Kamloops – On May 28th, 2015, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin remarked in her speech on “Reconciling Unity and Diversity in the Modern Era: Tolerance and Intolerance” that there are three conditions that she believes “essential to maintaining the norm of tolerance: first, insisting on respect for the human dignity of each person; second, fostering inclusive institutions and cultural attitudes in civil society; and third, maintaining the rule of law (p.3).”[1]

“With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission coming to a close, its findings don’t come as a surprise to us.  Our people live with the realities and ramifications resultant from the Residential School “cultural genocidal” regime everyday day”, declared Kukpi7 Christian, Tribal Chief of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. “The prevailing effects of this horrendous stain in our history can be most clearly seen in the current child welfare system and its overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and families.” The TRC recommends ninety four legislation implementations that could address the injustices of the Residential Schools.

As Chief Justice McLachlin stated, “insisting on respect for the human dignity of each person” is essential for tolerance.  Respect and dignity is what our children in care need and deserve. After generations of our children being abducted from their homes and families and being stripped of their culture, the status quo of child welfare cannot continue. The SNTC Chiefs join hundreds of other leaders across the country in a call to action. Social circumstances must change and leadership must be front and center taking the actions required that will shape future generations.

We eagerly await the final ruling from the Human Rights Tribunal where Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society challenged the federal government’s inequitable funding for our children.  If the Tribunal takes note of the Chief Justice’s words as we have, they will see the only ruling they can make is the one that respects dignity and the rule of law for our most vulnerable citizens.

We agree with Chief Justice and see a need for “fostering inclusive institutions and cultural attitudes in civil society.” Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada’s fourth recommendation calls upon the federal government to: “Affirm the right of Aboriginal governments to establish and maintain their own child-welfare agencies.”2

At this conclusion of the TRC, it is important that we recognize all of the day scholars who were exposed to the traumas of attending residential schools but have yet to find their justice or peace of mind. The impacts they endured are just as real as any other survivor. Part of TRC’s fourteenth recommendation, “Aboriginal languages are fundamental and valued elements of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.” Shows these people are living proof of a culture being stolen.

The Tk̓emlúps te Secwepemc and Sechelt First Nations have launched a class action suit and are seeking to represent all Aboriginal persons who attended Indian Residential Schools as day students for compensation for their losses of language and culture.  Ruling from Justice Harrington as to whether this can go forward as a class action can be expected by the end of this year.   For justice to be found from the residential school era, Day Scholars require the opportunity for the rule of law be applied and for their experiences to be entered into the record.


Chief Wayne Christian, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council – 1 (250) 503-7072 


[1] Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015) “Reconciling Unity and Diversity in the Modern Era: Tolerance and Intolerance” remarks at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Ontario

2 Truth and Reconciliation Canada, (2015), “Calls to Action”, 4i

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SFC Notice to Secwepemc Community Fishers – STOP FISHING IMMEDIATELY



August 7, 2014


On August 4th the tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley Mine site breached and released contaminated waste water and sediment into Polley Lake.  Hazeltine Creek flows out of Polley Lake and the flow of contaminated materials continued into Quesnel Lake.  The Quesnel River flows out of Quesnel Lake for approximately 100 km into the Fraser River at Quesnel.

SFC is monitoring this mining disaster closely.  The potential impacts on fish health are obvious and serious, but have yet to be fully determined.  There are reports already of salmon being caught near Lytton in the Fraser River with their skins peeling off.

We all urgently need reliable information about the toxicity of the materials and the scope of the pollution.  Water quality testing is currently being done by the Ministry of the Environment and we are awaiting results today.  As we receive updated information, SFC will forward it to community fisheries managers and catch surveyors.

At this time there is reason to believe that fishing will be affected in the Thompson River.  SFC is advising Secwepemc community fishers to EXERCISE CAUTION AND STOP FISHING UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

For further information:

BC Provincial Government Newsroom


Click here for a copy of the SFC Notice: SFC Notice to Fishers_Aug 07 14

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SNTC Condemns Mount Polley Mine Inaction


Shuswap Nation Tribal Council Condemns Mount Polley Mine Inaction

August 5th, 2014

The Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) condemns the inaction following the disastrous breach of the Mount Polley Mine’s tailing pond early Monday, August 4th, 2014.  The breach which caused over 5million cubic meters of contaminated water and toxic effluent to flow into the Hazeltine Creek and surrounding area is a state of emergency requiring immediate action.

The Williams Lake Indian Band, the Soda Creek Indian Band, members of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, and the surrounding communities have opposed permits for the mine to discharge effluent into the Quesnel Lake because of environmental concerns, and yet nothing was done.  Despite years of opposition and public outcry the Mount Polley Mine, owned by Imperial Metals Corporation, did not have a cohesive emergency plan in place.

“We are deeply concerned about the environmental degradation that this man-made disaster will leave in its wake, not only now, but well into the future,” says Chief Shane Gottfriedson, Tribal Spokesperson.  “When Prime Minister Harper changed the environmental legislation without first nation’s consultation we knew it would be only a matter of time before something like this happened.  We collectively demand action from the Governments of Canada and British Columbia to limit the negative impacts of this breach and to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

With what appears to be a limited emergency response it is highly likely the breach will affect many southern waterways, posing immense danger to the health of all British Columbians through the threat to our drinking water and the health of this year’s Adams River sockeye salmon run, predicted to be a record breaking return.

“This isn’t just a Secwepemc nation problem, this is a provincial problem.  We must hold all levels of government accountable, as well as the owners of the mine.  This breach affects each and every person and living organism in this province, including our sockeye. This is a wake-up call for British Columbians.  What does Imperial Metals plan to do?  How can we in good faith allow them to do it again at Ruddock Creek?  We must demand a moratorium on mining and exploration activities in our province before it’s too late,” says Chief Nelson Leon, Adams Lake Indian Band.

“We will not tolerate Imperial Metals downplaying this disaster, and demand a comprehensive review of safety procedures on all tailings.  There will be no mining within the Secwepemc nation until these demands have been met.  Criminal charges must be laid against this company,” added Chief Gottfriedson.

The SNTC works to advance the collective issues of aboriginal rights and title.  The SNTC is involved with fisheries and habitat management within the Secwepemc nation’s traditional territory and is dedicated to integrated, holistic approaches to ecosystem conservation and management.

Contact Information:

Chief Shane Gottfriedson, Tribal Spokesperson

Shuswap Nation Tribal Council

680 Athabasca St. W.

Kamloops, BC    V2H 1C4

Click here for a pdf copy: Press Release Mount Polley August 5th 2014


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Dipnetting with Dad – New Book Written by Willie Sellars

Dipnetting with Dad

Dipnetting With Dad

Written by Willie Sellars
Illustrated by Kevin Easthope

“With action-packed illustrations that are larger than life, Dipnetting with Dad showcases the bond between father and son while introducing readers to a story of tradition and culture that needs to be told.”

— Alan Woo, author of Maggie’s Chopsticks

“Willie’s great book took me back to my own days of fishing on the river... [His] detailed description of the process from ceremony to enjoying the final product is true to our culture. The Indigenous cultures have so much to share and this book contributes to the distribution of this knowledge.”

— Chief Bev Sellars, author of They Called Me Number One

Bump, Bump — Slap, river sockeye salmon are pulled onto shore!

Set in the beautiful landscape of the Cariboo Chilcotin region, Dipnetting with Dad is a delightful and colourful story of a father teaching his son the Secwepemc method of fishing known as dipnetting. Together they visit the Sweat Lodge, mend the nets, select the best fishing spot and catch and pack their fish through
rugged bush back to the family home for traditional preparation.

Willie Sellars is a band member of the Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc), which is located fifteen minutes south of the city of Williams Lake, BC. Living on the reserve for the majority of his life, he has been going dip-net fishing with his dad and uncles since he was seven years old. He is currently in his second term as a Councillor for the Williams Lake Indian Band. Willie is married and has two beautiful children, Cash and Milah, and keeps himself busy practicing his culture and playing sports.

Kevin Easthope was born and raised in Williams Lake, BC. He attended UBC Okanagan where he graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2008. While he is an artist and musician, he presently makes a living fighting forest fires for the province of British Columbia.

Paper over board
9.5” x 8.5” • 48 pages
Children’s Literature

For more information, or to schedule an interview with the authors, contact Andrea Routley at (604) 885-9194 • •

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Tsilhqot’in Journey for Justice

Tsilhqot’in Journey for Justice Trip to Ottawa: Check it out on U-Tube

Charlene Belleau, Manager, Indian Residential School Unit
Email:         Cell: 1 250 305 4701

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Conference Report – International Seminar on the Doctrine of Discovery

The Conference Report from the “International Seminar on the Doctrine of Discovery” which took place September 20th -21st, 2012 at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), Kamloops BC, is now available.  Please click this link to read a copy of the report:   Conference Report Doctrine Discovery Sept 20-21 2012

The Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and TRU hosted this conference with the goal of addressing how the colonial doctrine of discovery continues to form the foundation of North American legal systems and how this concept has been used within legal and political cultures around the world to subjugate Indigenous law, governments and sovereignty.  We had an incredible group of speakers present to talk about this significant topic (Walter Echo-Hawk, Robert Miller, Louise Mandell, Jeannette Armstrong, Steven Newcomb, Ronald Ignace, Tonya Gonnella Frichner and Oren Lyons).

The Conference Report captures the essence of what was truly an educational and inspirational event.

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