Friday, August 28, 2009

The Aboriginal File

There must be something in the air.

Only yesterday, writing about the extraordinary number of aboriginal women who are "missing" across Canada, I mentioned Northern BC's infamous Highway of Tears.

we learn that a huge contingent of RCMP has appeared in the vicinity of Prince George, with a special interest in a local property. Conjecture is that this is directly related to the disappearance of a young woman from the area in 2002.

There is much more to this nasty story and we should all follow it closely.

In a related item, the Winnipeg Free Press reported yesterday that the Chief of the Norway House Cree Nation has proposed by-laws that demand that residents involved in illegal or destructive behaviour either seek treatment or get out.

This is a most welcome instance of Canadian aboriginals seizing the day, showing real pride in themselves and fighting for positive change.

The official response?

INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) has said that the group has no jurisdiction over such matters and their local bylaws will be meaningless and unenforceable.

On the other hand...

This week I am visiting the St. Norbert and Selkirk, Manitoba installations of the Behavioural Health Foundation, Canada's oldest, first and foremost residential treatment centre for addicts, alcoholics and others.

The resident clients of these facilities, old and young, are eighty per cent aboriginal.

It is a truly beautiful thing to behold.

Over one hundred kindred soul working together, maintaining sobriety and building for the future.

Why people feel they have to go to Italy or further afield to study the Therapeutic Community model is mystifying when it has been operating here so successfully in Winnipeg for so many years now.

Full disclosure.

I was the founder of this program forty years ago in Vancouver.

I retired from this work in 1976.

To see how the next generations have hauled this idea so much further up the mountain is inspiring.

The more programs like this are welcomed and funded, the fewer Highways of Tears.