A breathtaking policy of criminalization, assimilation and
    extinguishment has been vigorously carried out against Indigenous
    Peoples where now there is a Canadian province called British

    Present day governments have re-named those programs many times
    and continue to manufacture support for them within Indigenous
    communities, relying on the element of duress to force change. They
    are, to quote the 1948 Genocide Convention, “deliberately inflicting on
    the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical
    destruction in whole or in part." They have not yet succeeded.

    Why do the people of BC seek the dissolution of some thirty distinct
    Indigenous nations? Why do they cry,“One law for all Canadians" in
    answer to Indigenous efforts to exercise their right of self-
    determination? Eighty percent of BC's economy today comes directly
    from extractive industries using natural resources in lands and waters
    that have never been ceded, sold or surrendered to them by the

    The ongoing displacement and dispossession of Indigenous Peoples
    relies on the settler population's indifference to their human rights.
    The interests of resource industries have dominated accounts of
    Indigenous Peoples throughout the mainstream media, the academic
    presses and the courts, impoverishing their histories and disappearing
    their futures.

    The indigenous have suffered excruciating losses. But the highest
    expression of government reconciliation has this bottom line and none
    other: release title to the traditional territories and resources; accept a
    small financial, land and program funding settlement; and become a BC

    The Colonial Present documents the colonizer's manufacture of a new
    mythology to rationalize this ultimatum. This book is an unprecedented
    history and chronicle of British Columbians' continuing attempts to
    leave the question of Indigenous Peoples' rights in the past, without
    ever recognizing them in the present.


    Introduction: A Poor to Middling Conspiracy
    The legal bankruptcy in which early Governors operated, with which they fathered
    the province of British Columbia, has never been remedied. They never made
    treaties, nor provision for the indigenous nations to join them. Today, the
    province remains in conflict with the foundations of Canada’s Constitution as well
    as the most basic international mechanisms for human rights, peace and justice. A
    sort of legal and cultural schizophrenia has become entrenched in a place where
    genocidal acts are carried out next to re-creations of indigenous artwork, and
    traditional cultural visions are fashionably co-opted. The development of legal,
    institutional and cultural constructs unique to BC has forced entire indigenous
    nations to the brink of destruction.

    Gee Eh? Genocide Awareness
    Perhaps most British Columbians do not identify with the genocidal effect of their
    government, courts and industry. British Columbia's policy has always been --
    before and ever since it became clear that the native peoples were not simply
    going to die out and disappear as they had calculated --to get title to the land by
    any and all means necessary. They have exploited many such means. Present day
    examples of each of the five acts which individually constitute genocide, according
    to the 1948 Convention on prevention and punishment of this crime, serve as an
    entry point for discussing the situation in the province. There is little room for
    misunderstanding those actions in light of the many and deeply consequential
    Supreme Court of Canada rulings in favour of existing aboriginal title and rights in
    BC. A state of war against these indigenous nations is in its 21st decade.

    $10 billion - or - the cash of the matter
    British Columbians seem to feel that their obligations to indigenous nations, arising
    from BC’s assumption of the entirety of their homelands, are being serviced by
    welfare payments to the individual citizens of those nations. Federal politicians
    have proclaimed loudly and often, over the last decade, that $10 billion is spent
    annually on Indian Affairs program funding and the general public can be relied
    upon to  graphically voice their objections to such a high price tag for maintaining
    "Canada's First Nations". But they have very little grasp of the truth of the
    situation. Statistically, indigenous and Inuit people live in conditions that feature
    suicide, high school drop-outs, teen pregnancy, diabetes and HIV, poverty,
    malnutrition, illiteracy, drug abuse and addiction, homelessness and incarceration
    at rates that outstrip the national averages at ten to seventy times. Quite
    evidently, welfare is not meeting their needs. It is far from an equitable settlement
    for the crimes the indigenous nations have suffered -- if in fact it  were only a fiscal
    remedy that they sought -- which it is not. The economy of British Columbia relies
    on denying native title and rights of self-determination. This effective subsidy by
    denial and criminalization was recognized as such by the World Trade Organization
    in 2000.

    Studying Indifference
    British Columbians harbor truisms of why native land claims are unimportant and
    even unnecessary, and remain markedly unaware of the particulars of those
    outstanding claims and the people who make them. Indifference is taught and
    practised throughout grade schools, universities, and in all popular media streams,
    leading to the complete failure of investigation and understanding in all social
    forums.  Prevailing racist attitudes are in fact supported by leading academics and
    opinion makers. Children in BC are largely unaware that there are people where
    they live who have a prior claim to the land, who speak another language, who
    historically flourished in their own unique nation. Graduates of high school and
    indeed universities will, instead of history, learn a sort of historio-mythology which
    allows them to dismiss indigenous peoples. They will be able to elaborately and
    incorrectly place the indigenous as belonging to the past. Many creative tools to
    deny the indigenous nations' proper present legal claims are deployed; tools
    published by their professors.

    On Reserve
    In the 1960's and 70's, while other British colonies were attaining independence, in
    British Columbia the Indians were taking control of their own Indian Agencies and
    administration of life on their unconscionably small Reserve lands. The originating
    moments of the Indian Reserve system, from the 1858 gold rush and the first wave
    of settlers, were followed immediately by half a century of vigorous political, but
    non-violent, protest. That era is separated from the present day mostly by a thirty
    year period where legal pursuits by Status Indians were literally outlawed. Their
    dispossession was ensured over a one hundred year period when registered land
    ownership by a Status Indian was prohibited. The innumerable Indian protests at
    being limited to "Reserves;" the Reserve Commissioners’ correspondence with the
    Colonial Secretary; the early court presentations by dozens of Chiefs unified by
    total desperation; the testimonial letters to newspapers and the grave inter-tribal
    Memorials to weak political promises; the roadblocks, court cases and
    international petitions all show a multi-generational legacy of resistance.
    At least half of indigenous people in BC do not live on Reserves today, because of
    their crushing poverty, lack of housing, and family politics gone sour under an
    imposed system. The elected Chiefs and Councils on Reserves, who are often on
    government pay, are answerable to the federal government more than their own
    constituents: they are agents in right of Canada.

    Assimilation and Criminalization
    Any explicit recognition of indigenous identity poses a threat to the assimilation
    goals of the majority BC electorate and their government. The government
    subsidizes careers and achievements of many aboriginal people who mask and
    then advocate assimilation. While their people are either bankrupt, landless or
    both, the indigenous salesmen are commissioned provincial heroes. The
    alternative to assimilation is, effectively, to be a criminal. Some of these "criminals"
    have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Resistance to the colonizer has
    informed the most dynamic, vivid and expensive strands of the indigenous story
    since contact, although little of it has been generously recorded. Children must
    survive against the insidious social agents of the land race, and so "normal people
    don't talk about St’át’imc stuff," they say. That is how it was put by one of their
    ten year olds.

    Extinguishment ... with Consent
    An examination of the BC Treaty Commission, facilitator of the “modern day treaty
    process” since 1992, reveals predetermined outcomes which include that
    indigenous peoples completing negotiations will extinguish their land titles and
    waive their right to self determination. In exchange for “self government” as
    prescribed by Canada, and a worryingly small parcel of what Canada views as
    British Columbia's lands. Testimony from a number of individuals who have
    experienced the realization of a modern day treaty in British Columbia is not
    ambiguous as to the results and how they were achieved. The elaborate self-
    extinguishment process has replaced the governments’ unilateral enforcement of
    it, and, although Final Agreements reached under the existing duress can hardly be
    described as consensual, they are celebrated by BC and Canada as the pinnacle of
    reconciliation between the original and the new peoples.

    Immigration or Escapement
    The early colonizing people were leaving the devil they knew for the one they
    didn't. The founders of Canada and BC were drifters, unwanted surplus labour,
    orphans, criminals, troublesome but wealthy sons, drug runners and bootleggers,
    independent opportunists, former Governors of the Falkland Islands or British
    Honduras, and occasionally would-be farmers. “A worse set of cut-throats and all-
    time scoundrels than those who flocked to Yale from all parts of the world never
    assembled anywhere.” They were all driven by desperation or greed, and were
    ushered in under the umbrella of Imperial Britain. They made up songs about their
    disdain for the colony’s laws and their lust for stolen treasure. They made towns
    which were described as “modern sodoms;” they re-sold smallpox infested
    blankets once the first native customers died. They plied a trade with Indians in
    whiskey mixed with ink, chewing tobacco, and nitric acid. At the behest of Britain
    and its laws, the colony was meant to treat honourably with the indigenous
    peoples, and first of all buy any land they wished to settle on. Unfortunately, the
    citizenry had little personal knowledge of being treated honourably or of the
    concept of the rule of law. The new entrepreneurs and settlers stood to gain
    everything they came for by denying the indigenous, and they did so. The use of
    instruments of governance and law has, for 150 years, been precluded by the
    interests and consequent world view of the very people who were supposed to
    enforce those rules. The decision to annihilate the indigenous is being made by
    individuals who, today and yesterday, lost their own homelands to the same
    imperial, industrial cause they champion now in someone else’s territory.

    The Role of Law
    As it concerns indigenous nations, law in British Columbia has always been only
    cosmetic: appearances are kept up by the use of white wigs, black robes and tall
    chairs, but the charade is otherwise farcical. From the time of hunting Indians in
    gunships or in loose posses with American sheriff’s badges at the front, to the
    most recent attempts at getting Indian land - the failed Recognition and
    Reconciliation legislation-- BC has been allergic to law. Complicit courts have simply
    made up convenient rulings - wildly, as it suited, replacing Constitutional
    instructions with their own obviously biased judgments. The steady work of
    defining aboriginal rights out of meaningful existence continues incrementally, one
    aboriginal rights court action at a time. The colonial courts have frozen indigenous
    rights to development at 1842. Since the courts’ requirements to prove aboriginal
    title have grown to fortress-like proportions, and government policy has
    prevented any of the qualifying activities that prove title, it looks as though the
    assessment of terra incognita applies better to indigenous homelands now than
    ever before. It may be that no one will ever see aboriginal title land in British
    Columbia. Royal Commissions of Inquiry into the condition of aboriginal peoples
    have effected nothing more than delay and denial, and in many cases simply
    formalized government indifference.

    The Rule of Ignorance
    "Freedom of the Press" in British Columbia can be better stated as, "a law unto
    themselves." The cycle of bias among those who control news publications with
    their advertising dollars reliably corrupts the written records in a resource-
    extraction-based culture. Will forestry, hydroelectric or mining companies place an
    ad in a journal which reports thoroughly on the Indian land question? No – and
    thereby the media blackout of aboriginal title issues is accomplished. The
    wholesale promotion of reporters and journalists who distort and disqualify
    aboriginal title issues to positions such as Director of the Vancouver International
    Writers' festival or to host a TV talk show is easily documented. Writers and editors
    operate with veritable impunity in their hate literature. A regular column titled
    "Aboriginal Concerns" is one example. Articles such as “Are Indians Human?” and
    “Indians Are A Health Problem,” reflected the nadir of colonial philosophy. As a
    result of uniform media incitement against the indigenous, British Columbians are
    presently unable to properly assess their own moral or legal situation as
    perpetrators of the worst abuses of human rights.

    Testing the New Mythologists
    First Nations today are asked to perform the unlikely task of “separating business
    from politics,” and thereby to “move forward” with the rest of the global economy.
    The myth that indigenous societies have improved under colonial occupation is
    perpetuated by scholars, politicians and judges, and popular writers take
    extraordinary license blurring fact and fiction. Elaborate legislative schemes to
    eradicate aboriginal rights have evolved throughout the colony’s history and
    collusion between the province and the federal government in so cutting off the
    indigenous future is understood -- by British Columbians --to be a great step
    forward, reminiscent of the so-called white man's burden to bring civilization to the
    savages. Successful politicians have careers marked by episodes of Indian fighting
    and lawyers for the Indians pander to the quick-cash extinguishment schemes in
    constant development by governments.

    Who Are We Now?
    British Columbians take pride in giving flavor to Canadian culture by showing off ill-
    gotten indigenous trinkets, stolen booty and icons, as well as promoting old
    photos of the natural landscape. The other half of the time they are wreaking
    destruction on those same people and places. But actions could be taken to realize
    true reconciliation between British Columbians and indigenous peoples today.
    Many leaders, native and non-native, have made plausible suggestions concerning
    what should be done. Instead, the non-native competitors for the land continue
    to ignore the fact that indigenous nations have the internationally recognized right
    to determine their course, to continue to be who they are and develop according
    to their own worldview.

The Rule of Ignorance
and the Role of Law
in British Columbia

/ Kerry Coast

ISBN: 978-0-9860362-3-1
$26.95  350 pp. 2013


ISBN 978-0-9860362-2-4
E-book Order: $20.00

    KERRY COAST has lived her life in the lands of the Squamish, Líl’wat, St’át’imc,
    Secwepemc and Sto:lo. Coast produced The St’át’imc Runner newspaper and The BC
    Treaty Negotiating Times. She adapted five legends for the stage and produced them
    with the Úcwalmicw Players in Lillooet. She has done professional research in First
    Nations Education. Coast served as the representative of IHRAAM, an international
    NGO, at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York in
    2011-2013, and participated in the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous
    Peoples (EMRIP) in 2013.  She was part of an IHRAAM delegation meeting with
    Commissioner Tracey Robinson of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights
    in Vancouver on August 9th, 2013 concerning a case registered with the IACHR.


    "Kerry Coast lays bare the putrid sophistries through which the Canadian state
    purports to legitimate its genocidal expropriation of the indigenous homelands
    comprising what is officially known as "British Columbia." This is history as it should
    be done."  
    -- Ward Churchill, author and activist

    "A timely, thorough, and readable exposé of the persistence of colonialism in British
    Columbia, the genocidal policies of Canadian settler society, and their ongoing effects
    on First Nations peoples.  The Colonial Present integrates historical context and
    contemporary political and cultural dynamics into its compelling assessment of urgent
    questions affecting indigenous land, natural resources and sovereignty.  This
    fascinating study provides a template not only for understanding but transforming
    colonial realities throughout North America."
    Natsu Taylor Saito, Professor of International Law, Georgia State University,
    author of Meeting the Enemy: American Exceptionalism and International Law

    "If the reader is concerned about social justice, especially in their own backyard, then
    The Colonial Present is an important read. It is jam packed with urgent human rights
    and sovereignist issues that affect the Original Peoples, not just of BC, but throughout
    Turtle Island and on down to Tierra del Fuego. "
    Kim Petersen, The Dissident Voice.  (Read the full review)

Tracey Robinson,
Commissioner on the Rights
of Women from the
Organization of American
States' Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights
(third from left) meets with
instigator James Louie (left),
Loni Edmonds (second from
left) and Kerry Coast (right) at
the Renaissance Inn,
Vancouver on August 9th, 2013
meeting of the UN Expert
Mechanism on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples
(EMRIP), July 2013
Co-op Radio, Vancouver, BC