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ISU makes house call to Squamish Nation activist

Dustin Rivers knew security officials would visit him

 

Dustin Rivers was sitting at home playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on North Vancouver's Squamish reserve Nov. 3 when a knock came at the door.

His father came upstairs and gave him a business card reading "Joint Intelligence Group" and said there were two men at the door who wanted to talk to him.

Rivers knew this was coming. An activist of mixed Squamish and Kwakwaka'wakw heritage, he's an outspoken writer and artist and the mind behind "Liberated Yet," a blog that chronicles behind-the-scenes issues pertaining to the Squamish Nation.

He had heard about intelligence officials visiting perceived Olympic threats door to door and had a feeling they might come by soon.

Rivers went down to greet the men. There, standing at the door, were Cst. Kirk Rattray, an Intelligence Investigator with the Integrated Security Unit, a joint operation that's overseeing security during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. With him was Jordan McLellan, also an Intelligence Investigator.

First the investigators offered him sweetgrass as a gesture of kindness. The offering made no sense to Rivers because, according to him, the Squamish Nation doesn't even grow the stuff.

Then the questions began.

"They asked me about what my intentions were during the Olympics in terms of protesting activities," he said in an interview. "They asked me what I thought about the Four Host First Nations and their involvement with the Olympics. They asked me about my involvment with the Native Youth Movement and the Warriors' Society."

Rivers had previously posted an image of the Native Warrior Society on his blog after members stole the Olympic flag from Vancouver City Hall. He then wrote that "Our children must know that some collaborated, and others resisted. No Olympics on Stolen Land!"

The investigators then asked him if he knew if anyone would get hurt as a result of protest activity, and whether he would help them and report to them if he knew of it happening.

Rivers didn't answer the question but the investigators persisted. He said the third time they asked him the question began to shift.

"At first it was if somebody gets hurt," he said. "They were kind of hounding me on it, do you want people to get hurt? Are you in support of hurting people?"

Finally the investigators asked whether he would help the ISU in case any property got damaged.

Eventually the questions turned to his own involvement in protest during the 2010 Games, and to that he couldn't give a definitive answer because he's not sure yet.

"I said honestly, I don't even know what my intentions are during the Olympics," he said. "I said I haven't had involvement with any of the activist groups in probably over a year because I've been focusing on doing community work in my own community."

Ultimately he told them that he believes in non-violent, grassroots activism. Then they started querying him on the Four Host First Nations Society, whose goal is to represent the Squamish, Lil'wat, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam First Nations during the Games.

Rivers then told them what he thinks the society represents - a group of band councils "imposed by the Indian Act and government and they're not our own way of organizing and I don't respect them at all."

The investigators then told him if there was no Indian Act, then he wouldn't be Indian. That was fine with Rivers.

"They got into this thing about, if there was no Indian Act, then you wouldn't be Indian because there's a lot of people out there who like the Indian Act because it gives them their Indian status and they get their rights from it," he said.

"I said it's kind of a moot point because you're saying that we're defined by the government about who our identity is. I said no, we define who we are ourselves."

Rivers questioned the whole procedure.

"I think it's questionable that they're using these tactics on people who are using our rights to free speech and to express our views, that we have to be questioned on this or have to be approached on this."

Staff Sgt. Mike Cote, an ISU spokesman, confirmed that members spoke with Rivers but "did so respecting the protocols in place that were established by the Squamish Nation." He said this because Rattray, one of the investigators who visited Rivers, previously came under criticism from the Mount Currie Band of the Lil'wat Nation for showing up on reserve without first alerting the band council.

"(Squamish Nation) Chief and council were aware that they're working in the area and speaking with people so everything's above board," he said. He added that ISU is visiting perceived Olympic critics to see if they have information that could be helpful to the ISU during the Games.

"I can't go into the details as to the reasons why, but certainly they had reasons to talk to Mr. Rivers," Cote said. "You know those names aren't picked out of a hat.

"People can tell us to leave and we respect that, so this will continue to happen."

 




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