As the Baby Boomer generation enters its final phase now that the first half are already on the retirement rolls, there were a few defining events this summer that offered a chance for us to reflect on our contribution to all the upheaval and our own mortality. The first of course were the massive wildfires. It has now been established beyond a doubt that our carbon consuming lifestyle has made the planet warmer and this of course has made it easy for fires to start.
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Monday, June 14, 2021
In the painting by Kent Monkman entitled "The Scream" you can see it all with the R.C.M.P. seizing the children from their homes and handing them over to the priests and nuns while their mothers scream in anguish. How something like this could ever have been allowed to happen is only believable when you realize the high level of racism that exists in this country. No settler Canadian would have ever tolerated such an outrageous trampling of parental rights but it was okay to do this to the Indians.
The Act also provided the federal government with the obligation to provide an education for First Nations people so, in 1883, in partnership with the churches, they began setting up residential schools across the country, with attendance mandatory. The purpose of the schools was to remove the children from the influence of their own families and culture and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian settler culture in order to "kill the Indian in the child." As a result, their hair was cut off, they were forbidden to speak their own language, wear their traditional clothes or keep any Indian objects, they were given new Christian names, and the missionary staff spent a lot of time instilling Christian practices and ideas while denigrating their own spiritual traditions.
Even worse than the fact thousands of children died is that half of these deaths weren't even documented and the school graveyards are filled with nameless crosses. And who ever heard of a school having a graveyard in the first place? The incomplete record keeping didn't even track attendance or scholastic achievement never mind cause of death or the names of the poor unfortunate souls. And the reason the bodies were buried on the school grounds is because the government and churches didn't want to pay for the cost of sending the bodies back to the families.
It took some modern radar mapping technology to uncover the bodies of 215 children at one of these notorious schools, in spite of all the denials from officials who ignored what parents had been trying to tell them for years, and now we can only imagine how many other buried bodies there are across the more than 139 former residential school grounds in Canada. Finally the Canadian public is waking up to the injustices that have been inflicted on First Nations people over our own lifetimes and we are horrified and shamed. The secrecy, complicity, and duplicity of the churches and past governments of all parties must now end and serious restitution and reconciliation begin.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Saturday, May 1, 2021
In the 1960's the Space Race was all about a competition between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to be the first to get to the Moon. At first the Russians were in the lead with the first satellite (Sputnik) and the first manned space flight and orbit of Earth (Yuri Gagarin) the first space walk, the first soft lunar landing of an unmanned space craft, and the first lunar orbiter. But eventually, through the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, the Americans came from behind with their superior technology and landed the first man (Neil Armstrong) on the moon on July 16, 1969.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Recently my hiking group decided to check out the "Temple of Time Grove of Giants" that have been found in the Seymour Valley. These are a collection of Douglas-fir trees that somehow survived the logging in this area 100 years ago and now tower above the second growth hemlock trees that dominate the area. Guided by an old Western Canada Wilderness Committee map fragment that had been posted on the Internet we set off to find these ancient witnesses to the North Shore's history.
The old-growth rainforests of the Pacific Northwest are a mixture of tree species dominated by giant Sitka spruce, western red cedar, hemlock, and Douglas-fir that were hundreds of years old. In 1903 the Hastings Shingle Manufacturing Company set up two mills in the Lynn Valley area due to the abundance of western red cedar growing in the Seymour Valley. Employing simple logging technology they used springboards to get above the butt swell of the cedar trees and cut them down using axes and cross saws. Trees were bucked and limbed on site and then dragged along skid roads to the mills.