Landless No More: Support Sylvia and Kurtis McAdam (Saysewahum)

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We, the undersigned lawyers, students, professors, and concerned members of the public, express our unequivocal support for Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum) and Kurtis McAdam (Saysewahum) as they defend themselves against charges levied by the province of Saskatchewan for protecting and defending their land.

The McAdam (Saysewahum) family are the generational caretakers and titleholders of the lands promised during Treaty 6 negotiations, now referred to as Stony Lake, for hundreds of years, since pre-confederation. A graveyard is located on Stony Lake and numerous shelters had once existed there.  The McAdam (Saysewhaum) families have since been homeless as a direct result of unfulfilled Treaty promises.

On February 26, 2017, a parks officer issued a warning to them advising them to vacate the land. They did not comply with this order and are now ordered to stand trial for contravening the warning contrary to s. 25(1) of the Parks Act. Both Sylvia and Kurtis now face fines and imprisonment if convicted.

At the heart of this legal battle is the Doctrine of Discovery. The Canadian government including the provinces and territories, have, since the creation of Canada and the Canadian Constitution Act, 1867, assumed control over Indigenous lands. The Canadian settler state, along with its provinces have created laws to justify the dispossession and annexation of lands, the appropriation of natural resources, the displacement and genocide of Indigenous peoples. Federal and provincial governments have asserted self-proclaimed sovereignty over lands belonging to Indigenous people through the creation of legal doctrines such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.

Standing in solidarity with Sylvia and Kurtis, we repudiate the settler-colonial legal frameworks that have and continue to be used to justify such encroachments. We call on the Canadian government, including the province of Saskatchewan, to adopt call to action 45 (i) of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action to ‘repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius’.

Reconciliation does not mean celebrating randomly chosen aspects of Indigenous culture in order to boast settler-Canadian views of itself as benevolent. Reconciliation, at the bare minimum, is a commitment to unraveling settler-colonial assertions of domination and control over land, resources, and Indigenous people. Eradicating the settler-legal frameworks used to justify the continuing and ongoing displacement of Indigenous people must end. These are the legal issues at play in the upcoming trial of Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum) and Kurtis McAdam (Saysewahum).

We stand in solidarity with them as they traverse the violence of law, standing trial for asserting their rights to be on their land.

The trial of Sylvia and Kurtis will take place on March 20-22, 2019, in Prince Albert Saskatchewan, at the Provincial Court, in courtroom #5 at 9:30am. Please attend the trial to show your solidarity and support for the ‘accused’.

Please also consider donating to help raise funds for their legal defence:

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