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Wolverine Ignace

Based on an interview with Miranda Dick

by Billie Pierre (Nlaka'pamux Nation)

Photo of Wolverine in 2015. Photo: Murray Bush - flux photo
Photo of Wolverine in 2015. Photo: Murray Bush - flux photo

Wolverine was the Secwepemc leader of the people who have would become known as the Ts’Peten Defenders. During the summer of 1995, the RCMP conducted the largest paramilitary operation in BC history against the Ts’Peten Defenders, a small group of mainly Secwepemc people who were asserting their rights to be on their own territory. This is commonly known as the Gustafsen Lake Standoff of 1995.

Wolverine had a grade 3 education, but he was self-educated in law, and went on to represent himself over 40 times in court. For each trial, he’d file a constitutional motion using laws that most courts don’t want to look on. Each time, the case was thrown out, and all charges were dropped. Miranda Dick, a granddaughter of Wolverine, shared the legal argument he researched and put together over the years, and also some of the courts this legal argument was used. His legal argument made it to the Hague International Court 2-3 times on Crimes and Acts of Genocide for Canada’s actions to the Ts’Peten Defenders in 1995. The same argument was used by Oj Pitawanakwat, who was a Ts’Peten Defender who had fled to the states. He was granted asylum by the US after Canada attempted to have him extradited.

“This is what he stood on. He’d say that this is what most courts don’t want to look on. The laws that have been created way back. The international laws, the natural laws, and the domestic laws”, says Miranda Dick, who then goes on to share what these laws were. “He said that there was 6 times in North America when the rights of Indigenous People were entrenched in law”.

  1. The Mohegans vs. Connecticut of 1704, under British Law

  2. The Royal Proclamation of 1763, under British Law

  3. The British North America Act of 1867, under British Law

  4. The Right to Third Party Adjudication of 1873, under British Law

  5. The Duty of Disallowance of 1875, under Canadian Law

  6. The Canadian Constitution of 1982

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