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Letters Nov. 13: A disrupted Remembrance Day ceremony; health care's new 'normal'

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B.C. Silver Cross Mother Sheila Fynes lays a wreath during Remembrance Day ceremonies at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

‘Disruptive’ note on Remembrance Day

I attended the Remembrance Day ­ceremony at the cenotaph. Immunocompromised with prostate cancer, I must take more than the usual precautions about COVID-19.

Hence, I remained on the north side of Belleville Street, closer to Menzies than to Government, away from the crowds.

At the same time, another ceremony was taking place at the memorial to those who fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The Cuban flag (not the Canadian flag) was flying, and the speaker was telling the assembled dozen or so that Remembrance Day disgusted him.

Canadians should not be honouring warriors, he said. It should be honouring such “peacemakers” as Augusto Sandino, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

He urged his audience to send that message to their Members of Parliament. He must have had some sort of loudspeaker, because I could hear his every word. He was totally disruptive.

A police car at the corner of Belleville and Menzies blocked traffic that would have interfered with the ceremony at the cenotaph.

Undoubtedly, the two police who were there knew what was happening, but they did nothing about it. Is this a testimony to Canadian tolerance and Canadian ­democracy, or is it something else?

Graeme Mount
Victoria

The new normal in B.C. patient care

On my way home from a slightly bloody accident while riding my horse, I stopped at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital emergency department to get it checked out for possible stitches, cleaning and dressing.

No parking spaces were my first indicator it was going to be a long wait. Secondly, it looked overwhelming after I got inside and saw the large number of individuals and families waiting to see a doctor.

I have no criticism of the emergency room staff, who were doing their best to accommodate everyone waiting with ­dignity and compassion.

After about 40 minutes I decided that in my case, I needed to get my wound cleaned or risk possible infection, so I left the hospital. When I got home, I phoned a retired nurse on my street to see if she could help me.

When I got to her house, she already had her kitchen set up like an emergency room. She assessed the situation quickly and efficiently and then cleaned and dressed the wound.

From what I have ascertained about that mob scene at the hospital is that most days are like this in hospital emergency departments across B.C. They are now being used as walk-in clinics for the majority of residents who no longer have their own GPs.

There is no quick fix for this complex problem, but recognition of the problem would at least start the ball rolling.

Until then, beware of the new norm in patient care.

Marilyn Copland
Victoria

Ethnic diversity needed at VicPD

Re: “Victoria police offer $20,000 hiring bonus, seek 12 new experienced officers,” Nov. 10.

Victoria may in fact have the whitest, most male police department in Canada. If Chief Del Manak wants more officers, he’d better not hire a dozen more white guys.

To fairly represent the 5.5 per cent of Victorians who are Indigenous, 19 or 20 of our VicPD should be First Nations or Métis. Last I heard, their recruiter guessed only eight are.

Similarly, VicPD’s Chinese-heritage officers and staff should number 15 to 17, yet the recruiter said only three are of Chinese heritage.

Based on StatCan numbers, 10 to 12 VicPD officers and staff should be Black or Latino, and 23 to 25 should have “other Asian” ethnic origins (non-Chinese and non-Indian).

Does our department have even one officer from those ancestries? And of course only a tiny fraction of VicPD ­officers are women.

Victoria should be building a department that truly represents our diverse city.

Bill Johnstone
Victoria

Move Old Town to the Ogden Point building

Why not move the whole third-floor exhibit to the ship arrivals and departure building in Ogden Point?

It would be an attraction and explanatory notice could explain the impact on First Nations.

I saw during a visit there that the wonderful little boat, the Tilikum, a First Nations boat which was modified with a sails and circumnavigated the world, is stored there. A lost gem.

Wendy Wardle
Cadboro Bay

Changes overdue at Royal B.C. Museum

Until I moved to the central Interior in 2003, I would have had many of the same sentiments about the museum’s ­third-floor exhibits as those expressed by many recent letters.

Now as I read those sentiments, I can see just how badly the changes are needed and long overdue.

Clearly, many of us need to have a better understanding of what was here before settlers came, what Indigenous peoples endured and still suffer as a result.

I hope the new exhibit will show some of the ingenious technology Indigenous peoples used as they lived in respect and harmony with the natural world; ­technology thought by the ­Europeans to be primitive was actually quite ­sophisticated.

It is time we all learn and accept the truth about how this country was developed since colonization began, what we have all lost as a result, and what we can all gain by respecting the people who thrived here for thousands of years.

I am looking forward to seeing the new exhibits when they open. I urge everyone to go with an open mind; to learn the rest of the story of early B.C.

I hope we will finally see the whole truth.

Hilda Earl
Burns Lake

Aim for real reconciliation for past injustices

Have we all gone mad?

I have to ask in light of the Royal B.C. Museum announcement concerning removing exhibits illustrating early European development in B.C., and now Victoria council’s latest idea — paying a cumulative annual grant to local Indigenous nations based on “new assessed revenue.”

Did the geniuses on council consult with experts, say, insurance/banking actuarial professionals, concerning the formula they’ve suggested? By making the “grants” cumulative, within a few decades they could possibly consume a significant chunk of Victoria’s annual budget.

Is that going to result in real “reconciliation”? Or resentment among non-Indigenous peoples? What’s next: renaming “Victoria” and “British Columbia”?

We need to stop and take a breath. A sincere reconciliation for past injustices suffered by Indigenous peoples at the hands of European-based institutions and peoples will not be achieved by ­making descendants of Europeans feel guilt, burying history or, to be blunt, “cutting cheques.”

A better way forward would be, perhaps, entrenching real changes in law, government, business and society that finally treat Indigenous peoples as equals.

Although traditionally the “third rail” of aboriginal issues, a beginning could be an honest re-examination of the Indian Act, federal legislation from the 19th century that governs Canada’s legal relationship with Indigenous peoples, as was done in a 1969 White Paper by then-minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Jean Chrétien — which, once tabled, was quietly shelved with no action.

After 50 years, perhaps it’s time for another look.

Kevin Bishop
Saanich

They are tearing apart downtown Victoria

The aura and commercial value of downtown Victoria seems to have taken a one-two punch virtually simultaneously.

The Royal B.C. Museum announces a makeover of its third floor, but without revealing any plans that would suggest how the museum’s most well-received exhibitory will be new and improved.

Victoria city council, meanwhile, all but completely nullifies Canada Day celebrations … suggesting that the usual fireworks display should instead be two minutes of silence, and leaving it up to “the staff” to work out the rest.

The many-tentacled public sector ­bodies, both elected and unelected, seem intent (and content) to continue tearing apart the fabric of downtown Victoria.

Ken Lane
Victoria

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