LETTER – Tiny House Warriors violate Secwepemc laws and customs

Chiefs Shelly Loring (left) and Rosanne Casimir.


Respecting and Living Within Secwepemc Laws and Customs

The term “Secwepemc” means “the spread-out People” — our ancestors occupied our homelands and lived and gathered resources off the land, in accordance with Secwepemc Laws and Customs, since the beginning of time.

While the Secwepemc People are united by a common language and similar culture and belief system, each Secwepemc Division is responsible for its territorial area within the larger Secwepemciiiecw. It has always been this way.

Our respective divisions and jurisdiction have been maintained and recognized by all Secwepemc, pursuant to the resolution of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council passed in 2011, which recognizes and affirms the validity of each Nation’s divisional boundary. This is also in keeping with the 1912 Memorial to Sir Wilfred Laurier, where the Secwepemc Chiefs reference the “boundaries known and recognized by all”, invoking principles of land tenure of each Secwepemc Nation (division)1.

Today, the leadership of each division are the yecwminmen (caretakers) of the lands and resources within their divisional area. Since the beginning of time, each yecwminmen defended their areas against outside intruders, and as Secwepemc we often supported relatives from surrounding communities?

The Tiny House Warriors have occupied sites at Blue River and Moonbeam Creek to oppose the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline Project (“Project”). Both sites at Blue River and Moonbeam Creek are located squarely within Simpcwul’ecw, or, Simpcw’s divisional area within the overall Secwepemc Nation.

The occupation and often disrespectful conduct of the Tiny House Warriors constitutes an intrusion into Simpcwul’ecw and a threat to our People, and the public. As leadership, our first and foremost job is to provide for the safety and well-being of all our People. In accordance with our Laws and Customs, we have called upon our neighbouring division, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc to stand in unity and solidarity with us, against the aggressive actions of the Tiny House Warriors.

With this statement, the leadership of the Simpcw and Tk’emlUps te Secwepemc, expressly oppose the Tiny House Warrior’s occupation of lands within Simpcwul’ecw and denounce the threatening and aggressive conduct towards all peoples. In keeping with the Secwepemc Nation’s Unity Declaration on June 22, 2012, Simpcw and Tk’emlups declare our support of “each other’s respective rights, obligations, responsibilities, mandates and areas of jurisdiction within Secwepemculecw based on principles of trust and goodwill”.

The Tiny House Warriors stand in violation of our Secwepemc Laws and Customs.

Our Secwepemc oral histories demonstrate the power of kinship relations in maintaining peaceful, social, and political alliances among communities and across the whole Secwepemc Nation. Our Laws and Customs provide guidance and lessons from our Secwepemc Ancestors. The White Arrow of Peace teaches us that to bring war onto and into one’s own Nation is a certain path to violence. Upholding our instructions in the Sku7pecen re Stseptekwlls (Story of the Porcupine) telling, we must respect each other’s jurisdiction as we endure through deep snows, as Sku7pecen did. The path to peace includes humility, it includes respectful dialogue, it includes sharing of knowledge and information.

The Sk7upecen telling instructs us that until there is a humbling and sharing of knowledge for the purpose of building understanding, we will continue to work at cross purposes. Our Ancestor’s taught us: “Be good to each other, so that they wouldn’t interfere with one another’s affairs any more… And this is how they learned from one another, and they were able to look after one another”.

In accordance with our governing processes, Simpcw and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, under the direction of their People, gave their free, prior and informed consent to Trans Mountain to construct and operate the Project within each respective divisional area of responsibility within the overall Secwepemc Nation. This consent was provided under an agreement with Trans Mountain. Through these agreements, Trans Mountain recognizes and respects Simpcw and the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc role as yecwminmen (caretakers) of their lands. “By providing opportunities for our People, we will continue to strengthen our economy in a way that still respects and honours the importance of Mother Earth for future generations,” Kukpi7 Loring states.

We respect the positions taken by other Secwepemc on the Project and fully acknowledge that each of us has the responsibility and jurisdiction to make their own decision. Simpcw has never ceded, sold, or surrendered our Title and Rights. We call upon the Tiny House Warriors to stand down, and step off Simpcwul’ecw and to respect our role as yecwminmem.

Kukpi7 Loring wishes to make it clear that going forward, “We will take appropriate steps to keep our People safe, to uphold our Secwepemc Laws and Customs, and to act in the best interests of our People and the Land.”

Kukpi7 Casimir further states that in accordance with the Oath to Office she executed, “that the Tkemh’ipsemc value all stakeholders by progressively increasing opportunities and successes by building on our strengths. Through transformation, professional development, and education we will maximize opportunities for increased efficiencies and economic development. We will achieve this by creating an environment of integrity built on a foundation of fairness, respect and trust for a healthy, safe and prosperous community and Nation while capitalizing on the highest and best use of our resources for future generations.”

Kukpi7 Casimir also wishes to add that, “Tk’emlups te Secwepemc will continue working together with Simpcw and our neighbours in a positive manner and ensure all of our communities are kept safe and informed.”


Kukpi7 Shelly Loring Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir
Simpcw Tk’emlups te Secwepemc

About Mel Rothenburger (8481 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on LETTER – Tiny House Warriors violate Secwepemc laws and customs

  1. Beverley Campbell // July 5, 2020 at 8:07 PM // Reply

    This is actually a wonderful and explanatory letter, thank you very much for your clarity and for the stand that you are taking.

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