The Lil’ Wat People

The Lil’ Wat people came together in July 1990 when we set up a roadblock on the Duffy Lake Road (Lillooet Lake Road) which cuts through Lil’Wat territory, We took this action to protest the clear-cut logging and other activities which destroy the land and leave us impoverished. Herbicides and pesticides are sprayed, contaminating the berries and the animals we eat. The salmon, another of our foods, are being threatened by the presence of PCBs stored near the Birkenhead River spawning grounds.

The Lil’Wat People are committed to asserting our sovereignty and to stopping the destruction of Mother Earth. We are a peaceful people. We are taking only peaceful means to carry out our obligation to the Creator to protect our land. More than half the Lil’Wat adults and youth support our actions. (Like many Indian communities, we are divided by the politics of the Indian Act.) We see no other avenue but to make it known that we are not going to sit back any longer. We must raise our children to know this resistance is real.

The Roadblocks

As many as one hundred trucks a day travel the Duffy Lake Road, taking our trees from the areas of our territory being clear-cut In July 1990 we setup a roadblock to stop the destruction and assert our sovereignty over the land. The Province of British Columbia obtained an injunction against the roadblock.

Sixty-three of our people were subsequently arrested, charged and imprisoned pending trial when they refused to recognize or obey the injunction. The roadblock was dismantled. The charges have been dropped against three people. The remaining sixty Lil’Wats were taken to court, where the judge refused to hear their sovereignty defense. This refusal will be appealed.

In February, 1991, we setup another blockade on the Ure Creek logging road which is being constructed on the far side of Lillooet Lake. This area contains the sacred burial grounds of our ancestors and many pictographs. Our Scwenaxem (medicine people) trained here.

International Forest Products Ltd. got an injunction against this second blockade and eleven of our people were subsequently arrested on the site. The charges against four were dropped. The remaining seven have been given one-month sentences, suspended if they keep the peace for one year.

The court also refused to hear the sovereignty argument and its refusal will be appealed. Three other Lil’Wats charged with related offences have been grouped with this case.

Read about the Declaration of the Lilooet Tribe