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T'sou-ke woman cites Indigenous rights in challenging obstruction charges

About 30 people were in the courtroom on Monday in support of George-Jim, who has been calling the trial a fight to uphold Indigenous law and Aboriginal rights and title.

A trial for a T’Sou-ke woman charged with obstructing a Victoria police officer two years ago was adjourned on Monday after she said she was mounting a constitutional challenge based on her Indigenous rights.

On Monday, Kati George-Jim, who is representing herself in court, cited the 1867 British North America Act, the Indian Act, as well as what she says are inherent responsibilities associated with her ancestral name, xʷ is xʷ čaa — pronounced wis-waa-cha — in a bid to have the charges dropped.

“I couldn’t tell you why I’m here other than to make sure I represent that name that I’ve been gifted … and being responsible for my inherent systems that this court cannot take away,” she said.

About 30 people were in the courtroom on Monday in support of George-Jim, who has been calling the trial a fight to uphold Indigenous law and Aboriginal rights and title.

Crown counsel Oleh Kuzma, who had several police witnesses lined up for the trial Monday, said he was not prepared to discuss constitutional or Charter issues and had not been served with the required 14-day notice. He also suggested that the Attorney General of Canada might have an interest in the case.

Provincial court Judge Mike Munro agreed that notice to the federal Attorney General would be needed before the court could proceed, adding: “I’m not going to dismiss her applications in respect to Charter issues.”

George-Jim is charged with obstructing a Victoria police officer in their line of duty on Sept. 18, 2023. That same day saw five ­people taken into custody after a woman poured liquid onto ­Victoria Police Chief Del Manak at a memorial event held at the B.C. legislature for Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman Chantel Moore, who was killed by police in New Brunswick in 2020.

mjlo@timescolonist.com

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