VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Two Native Warrior Society leaders and a
Tsawataineuk First Nation chief were arrested in Vancouver in June after
Canadian anti-terrorism units ambushed the pair on a busy downtown bridge.
David Dennis, leader of the West Coast Warrior Society, and James Ward,
leader of the East Coast Warrior Society, had just purchased 14 M-305
rifles and 10,400 rounds of ammunition worth $11,867.40 (CAN) from Lever
Arms in Vancouver June 27.
According to Ward, the trio legally purchased the hunting rifles for a
community-sponsored hunting course in the northern coastal community of
Kwakwakiwa of the Kingcome Inlet First Nation.
"The course is the Outdoor Indigenous Traditional Training course," said
Ward. "It is composed of hunting, tracking, trapping, camping and survival
classes. The goal is to reconnect the Kwakwakiwa youth with their
traditional lands, their culture and with the older hunters of their
community." Through the course, local hunters would help train the young
people, while Dennis would teach a gun safety course and Ward would teach
wilderness first aid.
Dennis and the owner of Lever Arms meticulously went through every piece of
registration documentation to ensure legal transfer of the rifles. The
rifles and ammunition were then placed in a van owned by the Tsawataineuk
community, never removed from their original shipping cases.
"Moments after making the purchase, we headed north on Burrard Street,"
said Ward. "David noticed an undercover police car following us in his
rearview mirror. He announced it to us, and just seconds later it hit its
lights. Several more [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] and Vancouver Police
Department vehicles quickly joined it. As they pulled us over, the RCMP and
VPD sealed off at both ends the entire Burrard Street bridge, shutting it
down to any traffic and pedestrians," he said.
"There were 15 to 20 police officers in this operation, made up of a
takedown team with a minimum of four to six Emergency Response Team members
[that were obviously visible], a K-9 team, several arrest teams, the
perimeter security team and members of the Integrated National Security
Enforcement Team directing the operation.
"... During the arrest, the ERT and arrest team members said they had
warrants for Dave and I. They said the warrants were for firearms
violations. They never produced these so-called warrants at any time during
the arrest or afterwards," he said.
Ward said he overheard RCMP officers saying they would take the three to
the Armoury, a military installation, instead of a police station to be
properly processed. "This concerned us," said Ward. "It was obvious at this
point that this proper arrest procedure was about to be deliberately
bypassed. As members of the warrior society being targeted by the
anti-terrorist team, this was expected," he said.
According to Ward, the three were kept handcuffed in partitioned cells in
the back of the police van for two hours. Dennis, in agony from a
dislocated shoulder, was refused medical attention. Eventually the van
stopped near False Creek, and the three were pulled out of the police van.
Police seized the rifles and ammunition, along with Ward's laptop computer
and notebooks, and cell phones belonging to Dennis and Joseph.
According to Kin Chung, owner of Lever Arms, Dennis met all federal legal
requirements for purchasing the guns and ammunition. "This action was
approved by the [Canadian Firearms Centre] before they got out the door,"
Chung told the Vancouver Sun.
"This was clearly politically and racially motivated," said Dennis. "Crown
Counsel is considering charging us with possession of a dangerous weapon.
It's up in the air right now, we don't know if we'll have to go to court,"
INSET, RCMP and the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service have made it
clear through past raids and questionings that the Native Warrior Movement
is a target of Canadian terrorism investigators.
Ward first gained notoriety for leading the Micmac lobster fishery protest
in Burnt Church, New Brunswick in 2001, where he met Dennis and other
members of the West Coast Warrior Society who had come to offer their
assistance. Two WCWS members were arrested during the conflict between
Micmac and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Dennis was also involved
in the Cheam fishery protest on the Fraser River and many other proposed
The RCMP would not comment on the incident, saying it is still under