B.C. natives take the edge off protests

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — Terrorist attacks on the U.S. have prompted B.C. native leaders to rule out blockades and other protests over a proposed referendum on treaty talks.

“Maybe now is not the time to be running out with our camouflage clothes on and blockading and whatnot,” says Lawrence Baird, chief councillor for the Ucluelet First Nation on Vancouver Island. “I’m just concerned some of our people could be labelled as terrorists — a bad connotation — and end up on somebody’s list.”

Judith Sayers, a B.C. chief who was helping to plot demonstration strategy, said the timing is bad for such protests as highway blockades.

“People are scared. They’re worried about things and we don’t need to increase that in any way,” says Sayers, chief of the Hupacasath band in the Vancouver Island community of Port Alberni.

Native leaders have been outraged by the B.C. government’s referendum plan. Bill Wilson, a summit leader, suggests it will fire up racists. But Gordon Campbell, the province’s Premier, maintains the referendum will not deal with constitutionally protected native rights.

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