For the past 22 years, a homeless man, who has self-identified as Christ, Chief Kitsilano and owner of all the land in the province, has been filing lawsuits from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, until this April, when a Supreme Court of B.C. judge deemed him a vexatious litigant.
In the legal system, if someone has a history of initiating court actions that obviously wouldn’t succeed with the purpose to annoy the defendant(s), then the judge may declare that individual a “vexatious litigant” and they would need permission from the court to pursue another lawsuit in the future.
In the case Sterritt v. Canada, “God, Prince Kitsilano, Skidegate” James Sterritt filed a lawsuit on behalf of all Indigenous Peoples and Muslims against The Queen of Canada, and the province of British Columbia, the City of Prince Rupert and M’Akola Group of Societies.
Last summer and fall, 74-year-old James Sterritt was often seen riding his bike throughout the city with his three unleashed dogs trailing close behind.
When the dogs were seized by the city bylaw officer, Sterritt first disputed the bylaw ticket and then he filed a lawsuit on Oct. 3 against the City of Prince Rupert, Premier Christy Clark, the prime minister and Her Majesty the Queen claiming they had no jurisdiction over him “as paramount owner of the private right belonging to all Indians by natural law, in all land in the Province of British Columbia.”
While Sterritt represented himself, the city flew in a lawyer from the Vancouver law firm Valkyrie Law corp. The total cost of the legal proceedings for the city — and taxpayers — totalled $46,214.
“I’m fighting for what I’m entitled to,” Sterritt said on July 6. “My argument and positions I take are all jurisdictional. The Indians own the land.”
When Justice Robert Punnett offered his reasons for judgment on April 27 at the Prince Rupert Courthouse, he stated “there is a noted lack of connection to reality and the assertions made are absurd.”
In order to declare Sterritt a vexatious litigant, Punnett stated that the court must look at the whole history of the matter.
Sterritt has made similar divine and aboriginal land claims dating back to 1995 in federal court, and again in 2002 against the City of Prince Rupert. In 2010, he filed against the RCMP and the Gitanmaax Indian Band in Terrace. But then, the Gitanmaax Indian Band, filed a claim against Sterritt for setting up camp and trespassing on reserve property in 2012. In December 2016, Sterritt filed a notice of claim against the Gitanmaax in the Smithers Registry, as well as the Queen, Canada and the RCMP, claiming right of possession of land.
When Sterritt set up a tent on Lotbiniere Street in Prince Rupert last October, he said he had lived in many tent cities and expected to go to court over the issue as he had done before. A couple days after making that statement, he sent an email to the newsroom with the subject line “Indian refuses to be removed from Indian Land.” In the email, he explained that a gale had destroyed the camp, and he had moved into a motor home on the same street.
“We tried to tell you that we are not here homeless per se’ but are deliberately claiming rights in the land under the city as Indian Land on which the city imposed itself without our consent and we intend to be resolved as the paramount owners of the land and convert it into ‘Land reserved for Indians’ and govern it as a reserve under the Federal Indian Act,” Sterritt wrote.
“We are presently resisting efforts to remove us and anticipate arguing our claim in court before we agree to relocate.” Sterritt brought his claim to court, represented himself and lost.
In 2002, Sterritt v. Prince Rupert the judge had dismissed his claims as being frivolous or vexatious. It wasn’t until five years later that Sterritt was declared a vexatious litigant, and he is no longer allowed to continue suing corporations, municipalities or people without the court’s permission.
“The courts in Canada ‘have finite resources that cannot be squandered. Every moment devoted to a vexatious litigant is a moment unavailable to a deserving litigant’,” Justice Punnett stated in his judgment citing Canada v. Olumide, 2017.
However, the Prince Rupert Courthouse hasn’t seen the last of Sterritt. After spending the winter in Hazelton, Sterritt is back in the city for more court proceedings, with his next court date scheduled for July 20.