“We don’t need your RCMP!”: Indigenous leader George Manuel honoured with Canada Post commemorative stamp
Video by Russ Diabo.
Canada Post has honoured Indigenous leader George Manuel (1921-1989) with a commemorative postage stamp.
Canada Post Magazine explains: “A strong-willed political leader and a champion of his people, George Manuel worked tirelessly to improve the social, economic and political conditions of First Nations people in Canada. He is credited by many with inspiring the modern Indigenous movement in Canada.”
And Canada Post highlights: “His steadfast commitment to fighting the Canadian government’s policies of assimilation led to perhaps his most important contribution: organizing the Constitution Express. The movement brought supporters from the west to Ottawa and the United Nations headquarters in New York by train in 1980 – and to Europe in 1981 – to lobby for the inclusion of Indigenous rights in the patriated Canadian Constitution. His efforts contributed to the recognition and affirmation of existing Indigenous and treaty rights in the Constitution Act, 1982.”
RCMP bomb threat against the Constitution Express
Indigenous Foundations adds: “A group of activists led by George Manuel, then president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs [UBCIC] chartered two trains from Vancouver that eventually carried approximately one thousand people to Ottawa to publicize concerns that Aboriginal rights would be abolished in the proposed Canadian Constitution.”
Their article also notes: “Arthur Manuel recalls a bomb threat made against it while in Winnipeg. Dr Winona Wheeler, on board as a representative of the UBCIC, recalls that the bomb threat was in fact staged by undercover RCMP officers posing as train employees in order to delay the train and to intimidate the activists. The train was stopped in remote, rural Ontario, and the passengers’ belongings were searched.”
In Unsettling Canada, Arthur Manuel also writes: “In Ottawa, the RCMP began to fortify Parliament Hill with riot gates.”
George Manuel Jr. and Doreen Manuel
The Canadian Press article about the commemorative stamp reports: “The stamp depicting Manuel, a member of the Sk’atsin (Neskonlith) First Nation, part of the Secwépemc Nation, was unveiled Monday [June 12] in North Vancouver, at a ceremony attended by his children George Manuel Jr., and Doreen Manuel.”
Photo: Manuel Jr. was arrested by the RCMP on his traditional territory in September 2004. He was resisting the $70 million expansion of the Sun Peaks Resort.
Doreen Manuel, an award-winning filmmaker, has also been critical of the RCMP.
She has commented (in a social media post about the 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline being built on Secwepemc territory without consent): “RCMP act as military to terrorize Indigenous land stewards on their Unceded traditional territory. Canadian government enacts genocide on Indigenous people.”
Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel was also present at the ceremony. George Manuel is her paternal grandfather.
Photo: Kanahus Manuel and Russ Diabo at the ceremony for the commemorative stamp.
Kanahus Manuel has been criminalized for her struggle against the Trans Mountain pipeline. She is part of the Tiny House Warriors movement.
Earlier this year, the Tiny House Warriors signed this open letter that calls for the abolition of the controversial RCMP unit, the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG), that is used to repress Indigenous land defence struggles.
The C-IRG has spent at least $3.5 million in “enforcement” actions in support of the Trans Mountain pipeline since 2017-18.
The letter states: “Given the serious nature of allegations against C-IRG, we call on Canada, BC, and the RCMP E-Division command to suspend all C-IRG duties and deployment. This suspension and disbandment would align BC with its stated commitments to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).”
We congratulate the Manuel family on the occasion of this commemorative stamp and for their continued defence of Secwepemc lands.
The stamp will be released on June 21.