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Agecoutay Says Creator Wanted Him To Grow Pot

Rocky Balboa

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Clutching a sacred bundle in his arms, one of the accused at the centre of a history-making grow-op told a jury that he is a traditional tribal chief of Turtle Island and was directed by the Creator to grow the plants for medicine.

"When the Creator tells me to do something, I cannot refuse," Lawrence Hubert Agecoutay testified in his own defence.

The Regina man, who turned 52 on Christmas Day, told the court he is Kitchi O-Stew Ka-Nee-Ka-Na-Go-Shick Ogimow-Wacon Ka-Nee-Ka-Neet, "and also known as Lawrence Agecoutay." He explained that his name, in the Soto language, means grand, biggest, head, spiritual chief, the leader -- "the one who always walks first."

On Tuesday, he led off the defence at the drug trial for himself and five other men. Agecoutay, his brothers Robert Stanley Agecoutay, 48, and Joseph Clayton Agecoutay, 47, as well as Chester Fernand Girard, 59, Nelson Edward Northwood, 58, and Jack Allan Northwood, 55, are charged with illegally producing marijuana and possessing the drug for the purpose of trafficking. All but Nelson Northwood had also faced a weapons charge, but the judge directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict on that Tuesday. Robert Agecoutay remains charged with possessing a prohibited weapon -- a sawed-off shotgun -- and Girard alone is also charged with forcible entry of a house.

During the first 10 days of the trial, Crown witnesses described a massive marijuana grow operation, concentrated in six large greenhouses and four smaller plots on the Pasqua First Nation by the homes of Robert and Joseph Agecoutay. Had the 6,000 plants -- the largest grow-op ever busted in Saskatchewan -- reached maturity, they carried a value between $2 million to $7.5 million, depending how they were packaged and sold, according to an RCMP expert.

But Lawrence Agecoutay said the site was not about making money, but making people better.

His lawyer Rod Simaluk waived his opening address, and instead immediately called on Agecoutay to testify. The accused said he belongs to the Soto nation, but is also a band member of the Pasqua First Nation, the reserve "put on top of us." He called himself the seventh generation, international, traditional, inherent and spiritual chief for the Anishnabe federation of sovereign nations, which isn't bound by "the visitors' law."

He explained that his sacred bundle holds a pipe, one of four passed down to him from his ancestors and making him the equivalent of a high priest. He described the multi-colored bundle and its contents as a "telephone to the Creator."

Becoming emotional, Agecoutay told how his grandparents died of cancer and his parents of diabetes. During their illnesses, he prayed to the Creator for medicine. At some point, he was in B.C., found a plant, and brought it back to the elders, who called it "a first step."

"I asked the Creator to ... send me the people that I need to get this medicine to the people." Agecoutay believed those prayers were answered when he met Girard through an Anishnabe Web site, on which Agecoutay posted his views and copies of the laws he believed supported his position.

Girard had the expertise to grow the plants. Agecoutay also met B.C. resident Nelson Northwood through the Web site, which advertised adoptions into the Anishnabe Nation for a price. Nelson Northwood paid $10,500 for adoption, he said. Once they understood the medicinal purpose of the operation, Nelson Northwood and Girard provided money for it, Agecoutay testified.

Shown a document, found inside his house, with figures that the Crown suggests show a planned three-way split of a $3-million profit from the sale of pot, Agecoutay said he received the paper from Nelson but only glanced at it.

"This was not about money," he added.

Agecoutay's cross-examination was to continue today.

Source: Regina Leader-Post
Author: Barb Pacholik
Copyright: 2008 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Website: canada.com
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