Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Abbotsford News week of July  4, 2005)

The natives are restless … and armed!

John Pifer

Public alert to the politically correct: have your heart medication nearby, or take an extra Prozac before reading further.

Surely to goodness if any gang in British Columbia armed themselves with semi-automatic assault rifles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition to protect their turf, any police force would be cheered by the citizenry for doing everything in its powers to seize the weapons and bust the perps, right?

Wrong, apparently, if the ‘gang’ in question claims to be a warrior society of an Indian band that maintains it is just protecting its land and training its youth, and that the RCMP were out of line for stopping them. And you may rest assured that anyone who dares to question this outrageous situation is automatically branded a racist for daring to express common sense and concern.

Having spent three weeks at Gustafson Lake in the BC Interior in 1995 when some other misguided “warriors” commandeered some land and shot at Mounties before an extended standoff, this scribe has encountered the types of militant native hotheads itching for a fight. The latest scenario is similar, and even more potentially lethal.

The only reason police officers were not killed at Gustafson was because the ones initially fired upon were saved by their Kevlar vests. There is no doubt that the intent was there; the execution fell short … thank God.

Now we have a group of Vancouver Island Indians, who police label as “masked thugs”, getting all righteously indignant because the RCMP arrested a couple of them and seized 14 assault rifles and 10,400 rounds of ammunition in the process.

Those arrested said the police were out “to undermine our credibility, and create an image in the minds of the public that we are gangsters. We are family men.” Right, so is Tony Soprano!

The perps showed a receipt for almost $12,000 for the weaponry, and maintained that they were to be used as part of a hunting and survival training course for native young people to reconnect with their traditional aboriginal culture, yada, yada, yada.

Dare we ask where the $12,000 originated – such as, say, Canadian taxpayers’ pockets? Dare we ask why a handful of young Indians need weapons that are not by any stretch of the imagination a game-hunting rifle? Dare we ask what is the link between a modern assault rifle and the traditional bow and arrow and/or spear of the culture of early aboriginals?

Oh, we can ask – but do not for a minute expect any straight answers, especially once the politicians, apologists and lawyers become more involved.

No criminal charges have been filed. The weapons have not been returned to the “warriors” … yet … for that is what they apparently demand. Some native leaders are expressing righteous indignation that the arrests were undertaken in a para-military-style operation, while others say the boys are just like a “fraternity”, not a gang of militants who are prepared to use whatever means necessary “to defend their rights”.

Well, if I were a police officer taking down a pair of suspects known to be packing semi-automatic assault rifles and loads of ammo, I would hope like hell that the operation was an efficient, para-military one.

Let us all keep a weather eye on how this one progresses. It is far from over.

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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