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Letter of support by the Chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations

Whitehorse, Yukon

December 14, 2003
 
Attn: The Supreme Court of British Columbia
800 Smyth Street
Vancouver, B.C.

Re: HEARING FOR MR. JOHN GRAHAM

Dear His Lordship;

This letter is in respect of the granting of bail to Mr. John Graham.

Mr. Graham is a Citizen of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation (CAFN). As a Citizen of CAFN, the CAFN Government has a responsibility to ensure that his rights are fully respected.

The CAFN Government has concerns relating the timing and circumstances of the charges against Mr. Graham, including the significant delay in proceeding with charges against Mr. Graham. Considering the history behind the matter for which Mr. Graham has been indicted for and the length of time that has past since the incident in question, the CAFN Government believes that is it extremely important that Mr. Graham be given full opportunity to prepare both for the extradition proceedings but also to prepare his defense to the charges that have been raised against him.

In considering the matter of granting bail to Mr. Graham, it is important to take into consideration that Mr. Graham has remained close to his community. He has lived in the Yukon and in his community for much of his life. He has not only family attachments but also cultural attachments to his community and first nationís culture.

It is the CAFN Government understanding that Mr. Graham has lived a relatively quite and peaceful life. The CAFN Government has not had concerns with Mr. Graham living in its communities. It is also the position of the CAFN Government that it would not have concerns with Mr. Graham living in our communities in the future.

The CAFN Government recognizes the gravity of the matter for which Mr. Graham is being held. But the CAFN Government believes that it is worth noting that this is an issue that has been around for close to 30 years. During that time the CAFN Government is not aware of any action of Mr. Graham that would be considered to be contrary to the publicís interest nor are we aware of any effort by Mr. Graham to hide from this issue. In fact, it is our understanding that Mr. Graham has even responded publicly to these allegation in 2000, during which time he denied any involvement in the matter.

The CAFN Government believes strongly in an open and fair justice system. Much has been made of the extradition and conviction of American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier. It is the CAFN Governmentís position that in light of the similarities between these two matters every effort must be made to ensure that Mr. Graham is able to prepare himself to fully and effectively defend himself in all aspects of the proceedings against him. This includes fully benefiting from the support of his family and community, support that is significantly impaired should Mr. Graham remain in custody.

In closing, the CAFN Government believes that granting bail to Mr. Graham would be in the public interest. We believe that in consideration of his history he has demonstrated that he is a law abiding Citizen of Canada and of our First Nation. And in light of the history of the extradition of Mr. Peltier, fairness demands that every opportunity be provided Mr. Graham to fully and effectively defend himself.

Yours truly,

James Allen
Chief
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations