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Letter: Decision in Burnaby court case shows we must decolonize justice system

Judge ignored Gladue report on sentencing.
Trans Mountain sites in Burnaby have been the scene of multiple protests. NOW files


Re: ‘Shame on Canada’: Jeers heard in court as Burnaby pipeline protester sentenced, NOW News

I am writing to correct some information in your article regarding Will George. He never was at “the camp across the street” from the main gate to the Mountain Terminal.

George was at the soccer field in the Forest Grove area of Burnaby during the summer of 2018. He was on the unceded land of the Tsleil Waututh (TWN) people. As a TWN person, he was occupying land that is theirs by rights and title having never negotiated any treaty with the colonizers.

Camp Cloud (the camp across the street from the main gates) was not sanctioned by the TWN and, in fact, they were asked to leave by the Elder of the Watch House (as directed by the TWN).

The City of Burnaby has recognized that we are on unceded lands. It is time we work to decolonize our judicial system to recognize what unceded lands mean.

The judge and the Crown, negating the Gladue report and the direction to use imprisonment as a last resort for Indigenous “offenders,” used the excuse that the sentencing will act as a deterrent for further actions. This is ridiculous. Many settlers have been arrested and been sent to jail. 

It has not acted as a deterrent. And the inherent, blatant racism by the Crown and the judge in Mr. George’s case, as well as three other Indigenous persons, leaves me embarrassed and ashamed to call myself a Canadian citizen.

Elan Gibson, Burnaby