Judge tosses ‘freeman’ lawsuit against Little Shuswap Indian Band

Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan notes hypocrisy of claim, calls it “nonsensical.”

  • Apr. 22, 2020 12:50 p.m.

By Tim Petruk

Kamloops This Week

A judge has thrown out the lawsuit of a Chase-area First Nations man who was suing his band after being barred from entering a number of band-operated facilities and businesses, calling the unsuccessful legal action “a weapon in his harassment arsenal.”

Peter August-Sjodin filed his claim against the Little Shuswap Indian Band in 2015, naming the band and Chief Oliver Arnouse as defendants.

On Jan. 28, 2015, the band sent August Sjodin a letter, telling him to stay away from its administration office and wellness centre, as well as the Little Shuswap Gas Station, Talking Rock golf course and Quaaout Lodge.

The letter was sent after band leaders and members said they felt bullied and threatened by August-Sjodin, court heard.

In May 2016, the band asked a B.C. Supreme Court judge to order August-Sjodin to make a $25,000 security payment to the court for potential costs. The judge made the order on July 4, 2016, but August-Sjodin did not pay the security.

During his court appearances and in materials he has filed, August-Sjodin has used language consistent with the so-called freeman-on-the-land movement.

Freemen, as they are sometimes called, often believe Canada’s courts have no jurisdiction over them. They use bizarre language and spelling and sometimes make strange claims.

Some of August-Sjodin’s materials included references to 18th-century royal proclamations and Queen Elizabeth.

Read more: ‘Vexatious’ litigant banned from Little Shuswap Indian Band facilities

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In a letter August-Sjodin wrote to B.C.’s attorney general, he accused the band’s lawyer of “grand treason against your queen by the use of improper use and false conveyance of language and Docking false* articles and other papers into the court to cause harm and damage.”

In her decision dismissing August-Sjodin’s lawsuit, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan called the claim “nonsensical.”

Donegan also ordered August-Sjodin pay some of the band’s legal fees.

“The plaintiff has a history of using the courts for the purpose of harassment and intimidation, giving no thought to his fellow band members or the time and money that is involved in attending to court actions,” Donegan said in her decision.

“This is one of those actions. Although the plaintiff feels he is not bound to follow court orders, he nevertheless persists in using the very courts he disavows as a weapon in his harassment arsenal. The plaintiff’s conduct is worthy of rebuke in an award of special costs.”

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