Sunday, February 17, 2008

Important Letter From an Old Friend

Here is an unforgetttable and important letter from my old friend, Gloria Cranmer Webster.

Gloria is the first (one the first?) first nations person to go to University here in BC and graduate. She comes from the ancestral chiefs at Alert Bay. She has been an important community leader in every way, including re-patriating priceless native artifacts from collections in Europe and around the world, and bringing home the Potlach ceremony.

Read this with care:

Hi, David:

Daniel saved the issue of the Province for me that had your article about Indians.

I have a real problem with people who are professional victims, i.e., always blaming the white guys for their screwed-up lives. The whole residential school payment to ex-students is a disaster. Drunks and addicts are being give thousands of dollars for the pain and suffering experienced in residential school, so what are they doing with their money? Yesterday, we buried a guy who'd got his residential school money, and drank himself to death. A young woman here got $80,00, bought her daughter a second-hand car, herself a new refrigerator and the rest went up her nose. There are other stories like these. In the meantime, we have a band council that has spent several millions of dollars, all borrowed from the Feds,on the treaty process and tell us that once the treaty is signed, we will have self-government. Why should we wait for white people to give us that? I think about the drug problem on this reserve - the RCMP say that they can do nothing if they can't catch the dealers in the act. Everyone knows who the dealers are. Why can't our leadership practice self-government now and get rid of the dealers in a traditional way? It's no wonder that I say, "If self-government comes in my lifetime, I'm running away to Patagonia(" I don't even know where that is, except it sounds like a long way from Alert Bay. I like what a cousin has to say about the treaty process, "It's like a guy stealing your car and offering to give you back the ashtray and the hubcaps."

As for the Olympics, I hope it rains non-stop for the entire duration It's obscene the kind of money being spent to improve the highway to Whistler, while people sleep in the streets, there are not enough teachers in our schools hospitals are short-staffed, etc. The sad thing is that some tribes have been sucked in and support the Olympics, another way of dividing native people. It's like the problem of fish farms in our area - some of us are totally opposed, while others, because of what's happened to the fishing industry, find jobs on fish farms, otherwise, they'd be on welfare.It was good to read your article and know that you are alive and well, as is this olady(that's how we say it around here).