Ts’Peten First Nation, BC ‑ A few months ago, we were pleased to keep the month long, Ts’Peten, or Gustafsen Lake armed stand-off in British Columbia alive for a new generation. We also published verbatim several installments of the events as they happened written by Six Nations own Doug Whitlow, who was a student journalist in BC at the time of the stand-off and gave from the inside.
One of the main characters in that historic stand-off was William Jones Ignace, better known as Wolverine. In January, although bedridden, with the help of friends and relatives Wolverine brought the details of RCMP and government foul play during the occupation to the forefront again as he dictated a letter to Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeking a national inquiry into the highly questionable police and government’s response to the Gustafsen Lake stand-off.
Last week in British Columbia, Wolverine passed over to the spirit world, but he got to tell his story to the world for the last time before he died.
“He leaves with us a great legacy of indigenous resistance, struggle and victory. He is widely respected and loved, not only by his family, community and Secwepemc Nation, but throughout the world as well,” stated the Ts’Peten Defence Committee, in a Facebook post.
According to Wolverine’s granddaughter, Chelsea Sampson, he had been battling cancer when he died on March 22, 2016.
The 10-month-long trial following the stand-off was conducted behind floor-to-ceiling bulletproof glass in the highest-security courtroom in British Columbia. Spectators passed through a metal detector before entering the B.C. Supreme Court in Surrey, a southeast suburb of Vancouver.
Police charged 14 indigenous people, Wolverine included, and four Caucasian supporters with 60 offences, including two counts of attempted murder. But there was much more to the story. Go to the Two Row Times website and scroll to where it says, “in print.” There you will find all of Two Row Times back issues. Look in the August 12th edition, for a story named “Introducing the Real Gustafsen Lake Story” and well as the August 19th and 26th editions.
Wolverine will be remembered as a strong activist prepared to serve time if needed to protect and preserve the rights of his people at a time before the internet came into its own. It was a time when hiding unlawful acts perpetrated by governments and police were much easier to do that it is in today’s information generation.