Economic Racism: Sun Peaks Gets Injunction & Enforcement Order
Sun Peaks Court Order - Economic Racism
by Arthur Manuel
The Supreme Court of British Columbia banned Aboriginal political presence
at Sun Peaks in an interlocutory injunction on September 3, 2004. The
interlocutory injunction prohibits the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center from
having a camp at Sun Peaks to monitor the destruction and sale of their
land. People who are at the camp now could be arrested at any time. This
decision completely ignores or recognizes any value to our Secwepemc
The Honourable Madame Justice Satanove accepted an Order drafted by Darcy
Alexander, Vice President and General Manager of Sun Peaks and Frank Quinn,
Lawyer and Sun Peaks Investor. The Order gives the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police (RCMP) orders to stop and arrest any Indian person and their friends
who they suspect are going to occupy land at the base area of Sun Peaks.
People arrested under this provision would be charged with "Criminal
Contempt of Court".
The BC Court Order totally endorses Sun Peaks' economic interests and denies
the fact that indigenous peoples do have economic rights, including the
right to politically defend and protect their proprietary interests when
they are being willfully ignored by the federal and provincial governments
and industries like Sun Peaks.
Justice Satanove totally backed up Darcy Alexander and Frank Quinn's
condominium and townhouse development. Frank Quinn stated in his Affidavit
that he is building 60 condominiums and 48 townhouses. Condominiums at Sun
Peaks average about $255 thousand dollars a unit which totals to $15 million
dollars. Townhouses average approximately $445 thousand dollars which
totals $21 million dollars. The total sale to be made by Frank Quinn under
this Court Order is $36 million dollars. Mr. Frank Quinn said in his
Affidavit that "if the camp is not removed, I believe sales for both these
projects will be negatively affected".
Darcy Alexander tried to discredit the efforts of the Skwelkwek'welt
Protection Center by using a controversial and questionable Press Release
issued by the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC). Darcy Alexander
submitted the SNTC Press Release as "Exhibit D" and said in his Affidavit
that "the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, which does represent local Indian
bands, has issued a press release objecting to the protest." At the BC
Supreme Court hearing Sun Peaks' legal counsel said the so called protestors
did not represent any body and were opposed to by the Shuswap Chiefs.
Madame Justice Satanove used the SNTC Press Release to justify her
The Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center did argue before the BC Supreme Court
that Aboriginal Title does have an economic component and that this economic
aspect of Aboriginal Title needs to be taken into account in the "balance of
convenience test" used to decide who is going to suffer irreparable economic
harm. It is clear that Frank Quinn would not suffer anything by having to
wait until our Aboriginal Title matters are dealt with, but we would suffer
immediately if he is allowed to build the 60 condominiums and 48 townhouses.
This was totally ignored.
The BC Supreme Court was briefed that the World Trade Organization (WTO) did
take our economic interests into account when the Indigenous Network on
Economic Trade (INET) had three amicus curiae submissions accepted in the
Canada US softwood lumber dispute. In those submissions it was argued that
"the federal government's non-recognition of Aboriginal Title is a cash
subsidy to the Canadian forest industry". This also applies to the land
that is being sold by Darcy Alexander and Frank Quinn. It is clear that BC
Supreme Court on this matter is living in the dark ages when indigenous
economic interests are valued at zero but when the same property is granted
to white investors it is valued at current market values. This is a form of
systemic economic racism.
The BC Court Order was drafted by Darcy Alexander and Frank Quinn and
basically prohibits any Indian person from going to Sun Peaks, because it
makes them subject to immediate questioning and possible arrest for Criminal
Contempt of Court. The BC Court Order does have some limitations in the
area and in terms of purpose but on the ground Indian people always feel
extreme duress under any prohibition enforced by the RCMP. This has been
described in many Indian criminal justice reports.
In fact the sign "No Indians Allowed" is being enforced by this BC Court
Order. It is based upon giving developers and real estate agents an "Indian
Free Zone" to sell our land under the protection of an injunctive remedy by
the BC Supreme Court. This kind of lopsided valuations needs to stop if the
economic conditions of our people are going to meaningfully and
substantially improve. Aboriginal title does have a macro economic
The provincial government did argue that other alternatives do exist like
the Haida Case but they were reminded that the province has not set a
process to implement this. And that the decision to approve Phase 2, and
the $285 million dollar expansion was not subject to the Haida process so
their position was basically only giving lip service to the Haida decision.
The BC government said they did not want to stand on their "Trespass Notice"
but only on public interest arguments.
It is clear that the BC government realizes that Trespass is pretty hard to
defend against Aboriginal people who have Aboriginal Title. In fact the
Supreme Court agreed with the province to skirt around the Trespass issue
and focus on the behavior of the Secwepemc people and supports living at the
camp as being a nuisance.
The avoidance of dealing with Trespass however does not make the sale of the
condominiums and townhouses legally perfect from a private property point of
view. It is clear that the province and Sun Peaks are making these sales
with the full knowledge that the Secwepemc peoples reject these real estate
deals. The only support they got is from the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council,
who does not have Aboriginal Title at Sun Peaks. Aboriginal Title belongs
to the Secwepemc peoples collectively and actually use and defend their land
according to their traditional values, knowledge and activities.
Right now there are about 12 people at the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center
camp and they are subject to this Court Order. I feel these people are on
the front line defending the indigenous economic interests of our peoples.
The traditional values, knowledge and activities they defend are the basis
of our economic rights as indigenous peoples. I fully support them in their
committed effort to expose the way the Canadian judicial system's
"injunctive remedy" is the legal means to impoverish our peoples.
Our people will not get one cent form Frank Quinn's $36 million dollar real
estate deals - with our land - the only outstanding question is what did the
Shuswap Nation Tribal Council get from Frank Quinn, Darcy Alexander and Sun