BC Court of Appeal orders release of Green Party Deputy Leader

April 30, 2024 at 2:40 pm  Federal, Politics

VANCOUVER, BC (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territory) — The BC Court of Appeal has ordered the release of Kwakwaka’wakw land defender and Green Party of Canada Deputy Leader Rainbow Eyes (Angela Davidson), pending her appeal against a sentence of 60-days jail for criminal contempt of court in connection with the Fairy Creek protests in 2021 and 2022.

We are still trying to braid the laws — the Indigenous and natural laws, and the colonial laws,” Rainbow Eyes says. “I did not see this during my trial unfortunately. So I’ve appealed the sentence and am asking the Court of Appeal to recognize these laws in a way that Chief Justice Hinkson did not. We are in a time of reconciliation and action, raising awareness about our collective history and duties in the face of the ecological and humanitarian crises in our world.”

Rainbow Eyes was sentenced to jail on April 24 by BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson and she has been incarcerated at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge since then. She filed an appeal against the sentence on Friday (April 26) and is being released this morning on bail, following a hearing at the Court of Appeal.

During her trial, Rainbow Eyes called witnesses including Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones, Coast Salish Elder Klasom Satlt’xw Losah (Rose Henry) and Kwakwaka’wakw Hereditary Chiefs Walas Namugwis (David Mungo Knox) and Ye-kue-kalas (David Daniel Hanuse).

“I asked Rainbow Eyes and numerous others to come to my territory to defend our great mother’s gift to us for our spiritual and religious practice,” says Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones. “Rainbow Eyes was and is faithful to that cause and continues to show strength and dedication in her resolve in the protection of our great mother’s gift to us.”

 Rainbow Eyes’ notice of appeal cites several errors of law in Chief Justice Hinkson’s reasons for sentence, including failing to properly apply Gladue principles and failing to place sufficient weight on the fact she was assisting in the search for a missing Coast Salish Indigenous person on two offence dates.

 “Rainbow Eyes believes that Chief Justice Hinkson engaged in an unreasonable balancing in imposing a sentence of 60 days jail,” Rainbow Eyes’ defence counsel Ben Isitt says. “She has appealed the sentence and is asking the Court of Appeal to conduct a proper Gladue analysis that takes into account her duties as a Kwakwaka’wakw land guardian protecting cedar trees at Fairy Creek and assisting in the search for a missing Coast Salish person.”

Alongside her duties with the Green Party of Canada, Rainbow Eyes serves as an elected Council member of Da’naxda’xw First Nation of Knight Inlet. She addressed delegates at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal in 2022 and is widely recognized as a leading voice within both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

The Fairy Creek protests of 2021 resulted in the largest number of arrests for civil disobedience in Canadian history, with nearly 1200 people arrested on the front lines in Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territory on southern Vancouver Island. Approximately 350 people were subsequently prosecuted for contempt of court by the BC Prosecution Service, with half of those charges dropped due to errors in the RCMP’s handling of enforcement operations.

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For further information, please contact:
Rainbow Eyes (Angela Davidson), 250-204-3567
Ben Isitt, Legal Counsel for Angela Davidson, 250-882-9302

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