In Memory of Wolverine

Wolverine, William Jones Ignace

Love, respect, hope, strength, and a deep thirst for freedom and justice flowed through Wolverine’s Memorial held a few days after the 84-year-old warrior released his spirit on March 22nd, World Water Day. Water was one sacred resource he fought for until the end of his days, leaving the community a legacy to continue to defend.

Wolverine also fought to defend Indigenous territory. In December 2015 he sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (printed in the last Volcano) demanding a federal public inquiry into the Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake Standoff (1995), the confrontation between Secwepemc people and RCMP. It was one of the largest police operations in Canada, involving 400 tactical assault team members against 20 Indigenous land defenders. By the end of the 31-day standoff, the police had fired over 77,000 rounds of ammunition. Wolverine was sentenced to more than 6 years in jail.

The memorial on March 29th was held at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. In attendance were people who had met him on the frontline of the struggle for self-determination and food sovereignty, land defense and water rights. Powerful warriors like Cecilia Point, Cease Wyss, Audrey Siegl, Grand Chief Stewart Philip, Dawn Morrison, Brian Granbois, and Jo Seenie were there to remind us of his strong convictions, while offering solidarity to his family.

Some friends brought stories and showed gratitude for his tireless fight but also for his love. He supported migrants with precarious immigration status, and last summer cultivated 8 acres of organic food to nourish the people of his nation.

After the sacred songs, and the mystical beat of the drums, Kanahus Manuel shared the words her grandfather spoke to her the day before he passed away. “The power is in knowing who we are when we stand on Earth,” he said as he reminded his grandchildren that they should never be afraid of the white man or the RCMP. “When we speak the truth, we’re doing what is right.”

He is still at the frontline of an ethereal trench over the mountains, where the eagles fly freely and the water runs pure. There is no doubt he is waiting for us to push Trudeau for the inquiry, and remove Imperial Metals from Secwepemc territory.

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