Letters July 15: What history reveals; they are not 'mass graves'

Read up on history before taking action

Re: “Taking action toward reconciliation at Island Health,” commentary, July 14.

The commentary by the chair of Island Health’s board of directors began with declaring her adherence to the guiding question, “Is what I am doing right for the patient?” Finally! Someone is going back to basics in the health care business, and realizing why they are there in the first place!

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My euphoria ended a few paragraphs later, when I realized that all she was advocating for was her own self-abasement and that of the board, and an adherence to the politically correct party line that all persons of European extraction in the 19th century were evil robber barons or wicked overseers. Her target this time: Matthew Begbie.

I suppose I have by now given up all hope that people who write this stuff should actually know what they are talking about.

Space here is too limited to explain exactly who Begbie was and what he did, and how he did it, but suffice it to say, he was the most fair-minded judge one could possibly have hoped for at the time, one who learned some of the various dialects of the Indigenous people across B.C., and who conducted many of his trials speaking their own language without interpreter.

He championed equal treatment for the Chinese in Victoria. He found against many gold miners in disputes with the local Indians.

And the chair of Island Health wants to denigrate this man?

To any and all, please read your history before you start chopping heads off statues and re-naming buildings. Your ignorance is showing.

M.D. (David) Hansen

Please don’t call them ‘mass graves’

I am angry and ashamed that the authorities responsible for the residential schools cannot (or will not, which is it?) produce proper records of the deaths which occurred among the children under their care. However, I am disturbed by the repeated use of the expression “mass graves,” most recently in an op-ed piece by a public figure responsible for ­Islanders’ health.

A cemetery, whose markers have disappeared for whatever reason, is not consistent with the horrific image that “mass grave” evokes for most people.

In this tragic context the use of “mass grave” qualifies as inflammatory rhetoric, and its use by any modern authority figure encourages extremists on both sides of this cultural divide, and risks discrediting anything else that authority has to say.

Neither of these effects in any way promote reconciliation.

Glen Percy

The word should have been ‘prostrate’

Re: “Canada: A land of grovellers,” ­letter, July 14.

Surely your correspondent has overstated his case that Canada has become a land of grovellers. I expect the number who have actually “prostated” themselves would be very small, and largely restricted to male medical professionals.

Matt Smith

It’s time we stood up to fight climate change

Here we are, on the precipice of climate crisis, the displacement and misery of tens of millions of people, the collapse of agriculture in vulnerable areas, and our elected representatives are traversing the country throwing out coins and promises.

Another unnecessary and costly ­election to distract us.

Governance it seems, has been usurped by politics. Campaigning has replaced in-depth decision-making. Keep Bay Street happy — buy a pipeline. “Grow the economy.” Create the illusion of jobs. Subsidize polluters. Ignore ­science. Fiddle while homes burn.

So who is going to lead us out of this self-inflicted quagmire? The same ones who got us into it. Us.

Demand change. Demand action. Insist that our government make decisions based on science and the best interests of citizens, not the corporate status quo.

Demand the end of subsidies to polluters. Insist on incentives for energy transformation. Write. Call. Inform. Protest. Block. Advocate. Vote.

What’s to lose? Except everything.

Karyn Woodland

Proper trail placement is needed in parks

My husband, Andrew Mitchell, a retired registered forester, died in November 2020. He would often say, “It is not enough to have money to acquire park land. Money must also be put aside for maintenance.”

Andrew worked in forestry engineering for about 35 years. After retirement he did volunteer maintenance work on trials. The month before his death he completed another section of trails at John Dean Park.

In order to do the work, Andrew spent three months gathering large boulders. He would hike in with a rock or two, put it near the path needing repairs and then on the way back bring other rocks. He also had a sack holding smaller stones that he would empty at the site.

Andrew was a very resourceful Scot and would utilize fill from overturned trees to do repairs, shape scrap metal to make drainage pipes, etc.

Some trails at parks have simply been made by someone bashing through the undergrowth. Proper trails need to be situated where they will cause the least damage to the environment, especially endangered flowers or trees, where they are least likely to cause erosion and where tripping hazards are avoided.

Unfortunately, many pathways in parks have not been properly located.

The addition of 12 hectares to Mount Work Park is new. Please ensure there are funds for maintenance, that the trails are properly situated and that competent professional people make good decisions on the location of the trails.

Janet Mitchell
North Saanich


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