Jail 'only option' for Shuswap Band member, freeman-on-the-land who ignored court order, used hot tub - InfoNews

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Jail 'only option' for Shuswap Band member, freeman-on-the-land who ignored court order, used hot tub

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July 02, 2020 - 5:30 PM

A Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band member who is referred to in court documents as a "freeman-on-the-land," has been sent to prison for using the reserve's pool and hot tub after he'd been barred from doing so by a court order.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan said Peter Allan August-Sjodin "openly and brazenly" disobeyed multiple court orders over several years and the only penalty that would "adequately reflect the gravity of the offences" was incarceration.

In the June 30 court decision, Justice Donegan sentenced August-Sjodin to 60 days of jail time.

"I am satisfied that a fine or community work service would not meet the objectives and principles of sentencing," the Justice said.

Although August-Sjodin has made multiple claims that the rules of the court do not apply to him, he asks for a sentence of community service if the court will not accept his submission that he receive no penalty.

The case between August-Sjodin and the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band goes back several years and the Band has obtained multiple court orders barring him from using facilities on the reserve as well as contacting over a dozen Band members, and other matters.

The court documents say August-Sjodin, 44, lives on the reserve with his partner and 16-year-old daughter. He collects a $1,800 a month disability cheque from the federal government as back issues prevent him from working.

In earlier court documents, August-Sjodin identified himself using various names including "spi7uwe" and ":spi7uwe./:secwepemc." He has repeatedly stated the courts have no jurisdiction over him and is described as a "freeman-on-the-land," a group of people known to use fictitious and pseudo-legal arguments routinely dismissed by the courts and which often leave followers in financial trouble because they believe they don't have to pay taxes.

In a separate case on June 3, August-Sjodin appealed an $81 ticket for driving without proof of vehicle insurance. He argued the judge and RCMP officers who issued the ticket were "coercive, biased and lacked jurisdiction." He lost the appeal.

The June 30 sentencing follows a decision in April where August-Sjodin was found in contempt in court for breaching multiple court orders dating back to 2016. According to court documents, August-Sjodin used the swimming pool and hot tub on the reserve, filed multiple liens against properties, including one owned by the Band's lawyer, and the Vancouver courthouse.

Justice Donagan said August-Sjodin deliberately filed liens targeting people he felt had wronged him and he was unapologetic in his behaviour.

The decision says the reason the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band is seeking a prison sentence is because of the harm he has caused to his own community.

"Reluctantly, they submit that incarceration is the only option to denounce and deter his contemptuous behaviour," reads the decision.

"August-Sjodin has displayed disdain for the court and repeated disobedience of two of its orders," Justice Donagan said. "His contemptuous actions in both proceedings were deliberate and extremely serious. He is not apologetic and has not expressed remorse for his contempt in either proceeding."

In her sentencing, the Justice references the issue of the excessive incarceration of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian prison system but says the case is not similar to those of protestors who have been jailed for blockades and had their sentences overturned as too harsh.

"August-Sjodin is not seeking to further the cause of the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band's self-governance. He is not involved in a blockade or protest trying to protect or advance the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band's land claims or interests," she said. "Instead, his actions are based on his own views of society and the rule of law... it is Mr. August-Sjodin’s own community that seeks incarceration as the only meaningful sanction."

Ultimately, the Justice sentenced August-Sjodin to 60 days jail. The Justice says he must turn up at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre sober at 4 p.m. July 3 to start his sentence.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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