CBC Digital Archives

RCMP attitudes to native Canadians, 1972

On Saturday afternoons for 21 years, dedicated listeners would "get their bannock and tea," and tune into CBC Radio for news from Our Native Land. The first - and so far only - national radio program focused on native issues and cultures, it chronicled the rejuvenation of native literature, art, culture and political activism beginning in 1965. Hosts included Johnny Yesno, Bernelda Wheeler, Albert Angus and Brian Maracle, who were part of the all-aboriginal production team.

"Indians feel there's too much law and order and not enough protection for the people," says host Johnny Yesno, introducing a special Our Native Land show on the RCMP. Ex-RCMP corporal, Jack Ramsay, slams the Mounties poor treatment and "attitude" towards Native people. The second half of the show looks at the results of inquest into the death of Fred Quilt, a Chilcotin Indian who died from injuries after an alleged beating by RCMP officers in 1971.
• Attorney General Leslie Peterson ordered the B.C. Supreme Court to conduct a second inquest into the death of 55-year-old Fred Quilt, citing the close ties between two jury members and the Williams Lake RCMP unit. Unlike the first all-white, all-male jury two aboriginal members sat on the jury for the second inquest. On Aug. 4, 1972, the jury returned with an open verdict, saying Quilt's "injury was caused by way of an unknown blunt force applied by an unknown object to his lower abdomen." The jury did not lay blame on anyone for Quilt's death.

• "Natives are discriminated against at virtually every moment of the criminal justice process - they are 'over-policed' compared to non-natives; are placed under greater surveillance; are more likely to be arrested than whites given identical circumstances; are less likely to have adequate legal representation; are less likely to understand court procedures (for both linguistic and broader cultural reasons); are more likely to plead guilty; are less likely to be granted bail; are more likely to be given incarcerative sentences; and are less likely to receive probation and parole than non-natives with similar offence histories. The general picture is one of institutionalized racism."
- Ted Palys, criminology professor at Simon Fraser University, 1992.

Medium: Radio
Program: Our Native Land
Broadcast Date: July 15, 1972
Guest(s): Tony Belcourt, Angie Dennis, Fred House, Dave MacIntosh, Jack Ramsay
Announcer: Trevor Critchley
Host: Johnny Yesno, Elizabeth Samson
Duration: 28:49
This clip was edited for copyright reasons.

Last updated: May 22, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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