Demand for Public Inquiry into Harriet Nahanee's sentencing

Photo:  North Shore NewsWe, the undersigned, condemn BC Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown's handling of contempt of court charges against 71 year old native Elder Harriet Nahanee, which resulted in a 14 day jail sentence on January 24, 2007. Respected Elder Nahanee filed an appeal, but died shortly after being released from Surrey Pre-Trial Services Centre. The public now demands that BC Attorney General Wally Oppal and BC Premier Gordon Campbell launch an immediate public inquiry into the Supreme Court of BC's treatment of Respected Elder Harriet Nahanee.  (Photo:  North Shore News)

Decisions by the Supreme Court of BC are not above the law. They are meant to reflect the law.

We, the undersigned, condemn Justice Brenda Brown's handling of contempt of court charges against 71 year old native Elder Harriet Nahanee, which resulted in a 14 day jail sentence January 24, 2007. Respected Elder Nahanee filed an appeal, but died shortly after being released from Surrey Pre-Trial Services Centre. The public now demands that BC Attorney General Wally Oppal and BC Premier Gordon Campbell launch an immediate public inquiry into:

Why Respected Aboriginal Elder Harriet Nahanee was tried and jailed, without legal representation, despite clear direction from the Supreme Court of Canada (R. v Gladue decision (1999)) that imprisonment should be the last remedy for Aboriginal persons.


Why Madam Justice Brown failed to take into account Respected Elder Nahanee’s background prior to sentencing, including the abuse and hearing loss she suffered, and the very limited education she received, at residential school.


Why Madam Justice Brown failed to take into consideration Respected Elder Nahanee’s known frail health when sentencing.


Why Madam Justice Brown refused to acknowledge Respected Elder Nahanee’s Aboriginal sovereignty defence. Respected Elder Nahanee went to Eagleridge Bluffs (unceded Indian land) to remind the BC government of its commitment to native Indians under the Proclamation of 1763, a historic legal document whereby "the Crown offered protection to the Aboriginal peoples as self-governing nations whose relative political autonomy and land rights it recognized" (Indian & Northern Affairs Canada).


Why Madam Justice Brown considered Respected Elder Nahanee "one of the most prominent and public contemnors". Respected Elder Nahanee delivered her message at Eagleridge Bluffs peacefully and respectfully. She received greater media attention because her heritage and cause differed from that of other protesters. Did increased media coverage resulting from her heritage contribute to Justice Brown's justification for incarceration?


Why Respected Elder Nahanee was kept at a maximum security pre-trial facility to serve out her entire sentence.

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