Cheam argues indigenous sovereignty in court
March 12, 2010
On March 9, 2010, several indigenous people from the Cheam reserve of the Pilalt/Sto:lo people appeared in court in Chilliwack, British Columbia, to face charges related to defiance of government fishing regulations and to present evidence of their sovereign indigenous right to fish. Several people from Vancouver, indigenous and supporters, travelled to Chilliwack to show support and build solidarity, which the Cheam people said they appreciated.
One person from Cheam was taken into custody in the court room in the morning on another fishing charge and was to be released on probation and conditional discharge afterwards.
Evidence was presented by a Cheam member, without the presence of a lawyer, of indigenous traditions, family ties and teachings handed down through the generations regarding fishing in the area. The immensely destructive impact of residential schools on indigenous traditions was also presented.
A solidarity message from people of the Katzie reserve and information on their salmon sovereignty blockade of the Golden Ears Bridge on February 13 as part of the anti-Olympic convergence was also shared with the Cheam people at the courthouse and was well received.
The judge put the trial over to May 25, setting aside three days for evidence to be presented by Cheam members. More support and solidarity then is requested.
A short background pamphlet on the Cheam struggle can be found here: