ISU making house calls in Mount Currie 

Olympic investigators are identifying potential threats throughout the corridor, says spokesperson

Since June this year Constable Kirk Rattray and two other investigators with the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit have been meeting with individuals from the Lil'wat Nation.

The plain-clothed investigators have been handing out business cards and making unscheduled visits throughout the Mount Currie reserve near Pemberton.

According to Daniel Sailland, senior administrator with the Mount Currie band, people were concerned when the officers showed up unannounced this summer.

"It is a common mistake for a lot of people who come onto the reserve to make an assumption that you can come into the community and do whatever, but it is not the process that is accepted," said Sailland.

Among other things, community members worried that anyone could claim to be working for the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit (VISU) since the officers were not in uniform.

The band asked the VISU investigators to explain to their chief and 12 councillors exactly what they were doing in the community, said Sailland. And they also set up an official process where VISU investigators now have to let the local government know they are on the reserve before making house calls.

Since this formal process was set up, some of the concerns have been stifled, said Sailland, although people are still uneasy about the investigators' presence.

"For our community there is always concern, because of our history, as to what the questioning is really about," added Sailland.

"It would be foolish for us not to at least consider what the true intent is, but I think in this case we are dealing with the security unit, and we are in a position whereby we have asked them various questions. We have shared our pasts and our concerns with them, and they have given us no reason to doubt what it is they are doing here."

The investigators told the band they want to know the community better before the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, and they hope their presence will make people comfortable to approach officers if they have questions or concerns.

When asked by Pique Newsmagazine this week, a VISU spokesperson couldn't elaborate further on what exactly the investigators are doing in Mount Currie.

"For both privacy and security reasons, I am not able to provide any details regarding who we saw and what, if anything, we learned," said Corporal Jen Allan, public affairs and media officer for VISU in an e-mailed response.

Mount Currie is not the only place in British Columbia the Olympic security investigators have visited in the lead up to the Winter Games.

Over the past few months, activists in both Vancouver and Victoria have reported that VISU officers have approached them on the street, at their homes, and at work, and some claim the investigators are also interviewing their neighbours.

Allan confirmed this week VISU is visiting individuals throughout British Columbia, including the Sea to Sky corridor, to "gather intelligence on potential threats."

"There is a wide range of potential threats that we consider," said Allan. "We have to look at everything that could potentially jeopardize the safety and security of Canadians and visitors to Canada.

"We are not detailing specifically what threats we are looking at. There is an expectation that we will exercise due diligence in establishing what threats are potentially out there."

An example of a potential threat, said Allan, would be a protest that becomes violent, although she added VISU upholds the Canadian right to peaceful protest and safe assembly areas will be set up near the Whistler Olympic venues for people to express their opinions.

Both Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, Squamish Mayor Greg Gardner, and Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said they have not heard about investigators approaching any individuals in their communities.

Meanwhile Whistler activist Sara Jennings - who announced last week her plans to protest during the Winter Games - said she knows one person who has been approached in Whistler by investigators to be "the eyes and ears for the police" during the Games.

"There is one guy I know who has been approached, and he does not want to come forward," said Jennings.

"He is not political at all. He has been here for years, and there is no evidence to support he is involved in anything around the Olympics, whether pro or con. He has been approached on three separate occasions to be, in a sense, the eyes and ears for the police, so I am told, an on-the-ground sort of thing."

Jennings added that this person is wary of the attention he is receiving from VISU.

"He doesn't want to be marked in any way, whether by police or by people on either side of the discussion," said Jennings. "He doesn't want to take part at all."

 

 

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