VANCOUVER - A mother and daughter, members of the Secwepemc First Nation in B.C.'s southern Interior, have won the right to appeal their 2002 convictions for taking part in a roadblock on the Sun Peaks Road near Kamloops, B.C., one year earlier.
In a hearing earlier this month before the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver, Nicole Valencia Manuel, 30, and her mother Beverly Phylis Manuel, 51, argued through their lawyer they honestly believed they had the legal right under aboriginal law to participate in the Sun Peaks roadblock in August, 2001.
The roadblock was set up in response to a controversial ski hill development on land claimed by the Secwepemc (or Shuswap) people as traditional territory. Protestors said the development threatened traditional hunting and medicinal-plant-gathering grounds on the mountain, as well as several sacred sites.
"We've always been told to take care of the land, and that's what we're telling the courts," Bev Manuel said in a phone interview Friday.
The convictions were upheld on appeal to the B.C. Supreme Court in November 2004. Bev Manuel served one year on probation, while Nicole Manuel spent 30 days in prison.
Within days of Nicole's release, both mother and daughter filed a second appeal.
Vancouver Sun© CanWest News Service 200