Letters July 2: Buffy Sainte-Marie's lyrics; limit use of air conditioning; proper beer temperature

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s words from 1966

Chief Dan George’s lament was not the only lament of the 1960s. Buffy Sainte-Marie’s 1966 lament My Country: ’Tis of Thy People, You’re Dying expresses the heartbreak of our treatment of Canada’s Indigenous people in the starkest terms.

What mystifies me is that 55 years later, nothing has changed and we’re shocked by the discovery of those small, unmarked graves.

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“You force us to send our children away

“To your schools where they’re taught to despise their traditions

“Forbid them their languages, then further say that

“Canada’s history really began

“When explorers set sail out of Europe

“And stress that the nations of leeches who conquered these lands

“Were the biggest, and bravest, and boldest, and best

“And yet where in your history books is the tale

“Of the genocide basic to this country’s birth?

“Of the preachers who lied? And the people who died?

“How a nation of patriots returned to their earth?

“Where does it tell of the starvation hell?

“As the children were herded, and raped and converted?

“And how do we rescue the missing and murdered?

“My country ’tis of thy people, you’re dying.”

Scott Lyle

Church burnings are domestic terrorism

Something’s wrong with a society that condones the burning of people’s houses of worship without any outrage from media or government. Is this to be the new norm of today’s society that if you personally find something offensive you destroy it?

It’s disgusting that a beautiful church in Morinville, Alta., was destroyed by a senseless and cowardly act. If these acts are retribution for residential schools sanctioned by federal government, then it’s probably just a matter of time before government buildings will be torched.

Sooner or later there will be counter-retribution from other small-minded, cowardly people. These acts could be considered domestic terrorism.

Eric Barber

Air conditioning? Use only as needed

After baking at almost 40 degrees in the shade, many of us lament the loss of our temperate climate. It’s a bit sickening. And it can only get worse because not enough seems to be being done to stop the climate change gradually oppressing the Earth.

Contributing to the problem are all of us driving around in our air-conditioned cars. Granted, the a/c is essential for some, especially under our recent heat dome, but every year when temperatures hit about 19 degrees and so many cars are seen with windows all rolled up, one can’t help wondering how we are contributing to the problem.

It’s known that using a/c decreases the efficiency of our engines unless at highway speeds, consumes more gasoline and spews carbon unnecessarily into our otherwise beautiful west coast.

Come on South Islanders! How can we pride ourselves on being so health-conscious and environmentally aware while continuing to behave in ways that will seriously damage our environment?

Mary Hogan

What temperature is room temperature?

British ale is traditionally served at room temperature.

But as my dad liked to point out, that means traditional British room temperature.

In other words, “very chilly.”

Malcolm Dew-Jones

Before craft beer, cold beer was OK

It used to be that beer in England was served at cellar temperature, which over there is about 57 F. Nowadays, using temperature control, it is kept at 50-57 F.

If beer is too cold, its flavour is lost — mind you, until craft beers came to North America, it would not have been missed, and so the practice of serving too cold beer became accepted.

I ask for my beer to be served in a warm glass.

John Binsted

Yes, warm beer is the best beer

Having lived in Bavaria for quite a while, I am familiar with the concept of warm beer.

First of all, it gives you more taste than cold beer.

Just like we do not serve good scotch over ice! Sacrilege!

In most places where beer is served in Bavaria, we had the option of having it warmed up.

For that there is a little metal tube, about the size of a good cigar, that is filled with hot water and then clipped inside the beer mug.

If somebody wants to get such a “beer warmer,” I am sure the tourist offices in all Bavarian cities could get you one. Or write directly to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich :)



Oans - zwoa - gsuffa!

I.F.L. Schmidt-Ostrander
Brentwood Bay

Another vote for beer at room temperature

Kudos to David Smith who asked: Why does beer have to be sold cold?

I totally agree! I am a fan of Guinness and other good beers and ales and can’t drink them when they are so cold. The flavour is completely lost.

Why can’t they just keep some out of the fridges for those of us who appreciate the good ones meant to be drank at room temperature?

Pat Rose

Time will take care of this major problem

A letter asked: Why does beer have to be served cold?

Let it sit!

Mike Holt

So many have suffered, move forward together

Re: “Irish Canadians deserve an apology,” letter, June 30.

So many of today’s Canadians suffered discrimination for being Irish, German, Italian and others.

Canadian families remember the first generation who worked extremely hard to provide a stable environment for the next generation, and those following. Now we are told to be ashamed for a system that is evolving into a caring, supportive, and equal society.

We should not wallow in some aspects of the past for which we were not responsible. We have already suffered violent revolutions or economic hardship elsewhere in the world and arrived as refugees.

We know injustice. Cannot be racist. Let us move forward to a positive future.

Elizabeth Fraser

Blush! Some praise for the Times Colonist

During the pandemic, many wonderful organizations and individuals were lauded for their generous contributions to their community.

It was heartwarming to see how people from all walks of life and levels of wealth (or poverty!) joined to help those in need.

It seems to me that the one organization that pulled all these groups and individuals together and constantly encouraged us to do more and give more was the Times Colonist.

Dave Obee’s daily columns challenged us and made us feel we could and should be part of the great effort. I don’t believe either he or the paper have received the recognition they deserve.

Brian Gingell

Thanks for the help after a fall

Thank you to the kind people who rushed to my assistance on June 14 when I was walking, using my walker, and fell at the corner of Clive Drive and Oak Bay Avenue.

A special thank you to the young man who saw me fall and showed such concern.

As one would expect with a fall at the age of 99, it was a shake up to my nerves, and despite the amount of blood from my head wound, I did not sustain any significant injury.

I have a few bruises, but mostly to my dignity! The care and kindness shown to me is much appreciated.

Ella Shadforth
Oak Bay

Real communication was difficult

One of Métis filmmaker Gil Cardinal’s last projects was the CBC-TV miniseries Big Bear (1998). The story was about the subjugation of the Indigenous people on the Prairies in the late 19th century, just prior to the train tracks being laid “coast-to-coast,” in order to connect the Dominion of Canada, post-Confederation.

Cardinal employed an interesting technique wherein he had the English dialogue in the film spoken in an alien language (basically a made-up language with subtitles) while the Indigenous people all spoke in an understandable language (English).

Although I had trouble with the idea, I fully understood why he made that choice — so that the Canadians watching the program would have a better idea of how confusing it is to have an aggressive, dominant culture, a completely foreign people, speaking in an undecipherable language. It was quite effective from that point of view — it clearly demonstrated how difficult it was for real communication to take place. Imagine the confusion when it came to treaties.

Flash forward to Victoria, 2021, attempting to do the right thing now that a better understanding of the impact of European settlers coming to this country is unfolding.

Perhaps a solution to the difficulty of understanding the use of local Indigenous alphabets/words that readers have expressed would be to have the relevant languages on the appropriate signs (street, village, etc.) so that people can begin to understand the other ones involved.

Just like (not to demean but to illustrate) cereal boxes have done for a few generations in Canada, vis-a-vis français.

Kudos to Victorians for trying to find a way to conciliate. It’s a long road ahead, and with the current requests for “understanding” coming from Indigenous leaders, it is likely “the least we can do.”

Marke Slipp
Oak Bay

What was the alphabet before colonists arrived?

Last week, a letter-writer opined that if we are to have signs in the Indigenous language(s), they should be phonetically modified so English speakers could ­pronounce them.

Then another writer said that everyone should take the time to learn how to pronounce the Indigenous words (not saying which of the 30 languages are preferred: maybe all of them).

But either way, it seems to me that placing signs using the alphabet of the colonists is not in keeping with reconciliation.

I suggest that all signs in the Indigenous language(s) should use the alphabet that the First Nations were using when the colonists arrived.

Doesn’t that seem reasonable?

Ian Cameron
Brentwood Bay

Imagine! A council that listens to residents

I was stunned recently when I read a letter to the Times Colonist stating that the mayor of Colwood had cancelled city plans to close the Lagoon Parkway for food trucks this summer.

The reason cited was he had listened to the many letters and phone calls from residents.

Living in Victoria, where our ideologically driven mayor and council never seem to listen, this came as a total shock.

Perhaps if all of our councillors lived in Victoria, at least some of them would be better listeners. And we might then have full access to Clover Point and Beacon Hill Park fully restored, among many other things.

John Amon

Next, we need a climate lockdown

There is much injustice involved in which businesses get shut down, for what reasons, and what compensation, if any, is offered.

But as in many issues, greater considerations may be hidden “off stage” than the immediate human suffering. It is a shame that the owner of Fan Tan Trading Post may lose her business, but in the bigger picture it is vital that many are similarly closed or reduced in sales, though we must make sure that none are favoured or discriminated against for the wrong reasons, as seems often the case.

COVID-19 has been one determinant, often for good cause. It is routine for ending rental leases, expropriations, and even resulting from zoning changes.

But ahead we must see many more contractions as we learn to cut our wasteful and inessential spending in order to reduce climate and weather catastrophes. Just about all economic activity, not just manufacturing, incurs atmospheric carbon emissions, but many services, including the servers routing this email.

It is not quite the same as enforcing mask-wearing on everyone to lessen COVID spread, but the principle is the same: Many of us must be inhibited to protect the greater good. Hard times are approaching that technology has very limited ability to fix without human self-restraint.

If some politicians finally have the courage to tell us this unpleasant truth, and be willing to implement it, they could well be the ones you should vote for.

Alas, we need a climate lockdown.

Glynne Evans

Another vote for the steamship building

I support the growing chorus of voices that are in favour of locating our provincial maritime museum in Victoria’s Inner Harbour — specifically in the CPR Steamship Building and its adjacent water lot.

The museum, with its extensive collection of artifacts and vessels of historic interest, represents an excellent opportunity to not only showcase the robust maritime heritage of this province but can also highlight the colourful maritime history of the Indigenous peoples.

Furthermore, the museum does not only have to reflect the past but can also look to the future and provide inter-active insights into the exciting innovation and new technologies in the ocean and marine space, where B.C. companies and organizations (like Ocean Networks Canada) are making their mark on the world stage.

What better place than to put all these great opportunities into the CPR Steamship Building, where it sits in close proximity with another one of our jewels, the Royal B.C. Museum.

Alex Rueben, executive director
Association of British Columbia Marine Industries


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