Letters June 5: Criminal activity in residential schools; clarity in vaccination sites

Do not discount criminal activity

Re: “Many diseases swept through schools,” letter, June 3.

The letter-writer suggests there is no reason to suspect there was criminal activity in the residential schools that led to the cause of death.

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However, Indigenous people have been trying for decades to tell us about the criminal activity that occurred.

The letter-writer’s attempt to speculate about the cause of death is inappropriate, and his point that other children died at a young age in this era is an attempt to minimize the terrible impact of these schools, which is incredibly harmful to survivors.

He points out the stark difference himself — that non-Aboriginal children had headstones marking their graves, meaning that their parents knew how and when they died.

I am ashamed and saddened not only that individuals still attempt to minimize the impact of residential schools, but that they feel they need to publicly share their opinion, which helps no one and only does harm.

Amy Smith


Documented evidence of much abuse

Re: “Many diseases swept through schools,” letter, June 3.

As the writer notes, infectious diseases killed many children, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, during the years the Kamloops residential school operated.

But his conclusion, that this means there’s no reason to suspect these children died of criminal activity, does not follow.

Given documented evidence that children in these homes suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and that many were malnourished and received substandard medical care, there is every reason to suspect criminal activity.

Anne Percival


Where, oh where, is the vaccination spot?

I have received a vaccination confirmation email instructing me to show up at 1151 Esquimalt Rd.

Please note that, unlike the correspondent on June 3, the street name of my clinic is Esquimalt Road. Same number, but not on Admirals Road.

If his notification follows the rather lacking in detail pattern of mine, it lacks a facility name.

In my case, there is the Esquimalt Pharmasave at 1-1153 Esquimalt Rd. in near proximity to 1151 Esquimalt Rd. On the other hand, Archie Browning Sports Centre lists its own address as 1151 Esquimalt Rd. Have you ever tried to determine the street address of a particular business along a common frontage in a strip mall?

It seems that it’s far too expensive to buy a few more self-adhesive numeric digits to stick on the door.

Your earlier correspondent might want to triple-check his clinic’s address in case he’s mistaken Admirals Road for Esquimalt Road and has transposed the digits to fit a false reality.

But, would it be too much trouble for these email notification sender-outers to include the actual name of the facility in which the clinic is being held?

Stuart Cox


Go online, it’s not that hard

Re: “Homeowners grants should not be online,” letter, June 3.

I spent more than an hour waiting on the phone to do the application for the yearly homeowners grant.

The notice I had received gave me the option of both phone or online. I finally gave up on the phone and decided to try the online, even though I am not comfortable doing applications, etc., online.

To my surprise and relief, it was very easy and straightforward to complete the necessary information and receive confirmation by email.

I definitely did not feel offended at the request to produce my SIN number. I am certain that the government does not want to be scammed any more than we citizens do.

For many of us, it’s a complicated world and takes some getting used to.

Ursula Muirhead


Name changes needed at Oak Bay marina

The Oak Bay Marina lease renewal provides an opportunity to rename the marina itself the Oak Bay Municipal Marina, and Turkey Head walkway and parking lot Spewhung Park.

Both changes would clarify that the marina is a public resource owned by the municipality and operated by a lessee.

Consequently, access to the water, leadership in environmental conservation and adequate washrooms is a public right, not a concession from the marina operator.

Similarly, renaming the parking lot as a real park, in addition to providing a gesture of reconciliation, would encourage citizens to view the area as a public resource, not simply a parking lot adjacent to a commercial enterprise.

Renaming both entities would reinforce the need for council to establish an advisory committee of experts to provide guidance on a management plan that integrates recreational uses, environmental aspects and commercial opportunities.

Such a committee could be instrumental in viewing the entire bay from Cattle Point to Turkey Head as a single entity, something long overdue.

Any lease renewal should anticipate such a perspective. The current operation of the bay ignores the bird sanctuary designation, continues the degradation of the eel grass and marine environment, and fails to provide for sewage pump-out from boats.

It fosters misuse of the right of anchorage, leading predictably to damaged and sunken boats, and under-use of the restaurant, causing the municipality to forgo a reasonable return for its facilities.

Having chosen to request proposals without adequate public input, council must now adjust to ensure the community’s interests are addressed after the fact.

Failure to do so should result in other name changes: the names of the mayor and six councillors.

Gordon Alexander

Oak Bay

Imagine a rhino in place of that tree

Recently, a photo taken by Lorna Beecroft circulated depicting the majestic trunk of an old-growth tree being transported on a Vancouver Island highway.

Though the old growth depicted in Beecroft’s photo was not of a recently felled cedar, its sheer size and awe-inspiring girth reminds us of what is at stake at Fairy Creek.

Now, imagine the public outcry had that picture instead featured a near-extinct rhino strapped dead to the back of that truck.

With a dwindling number of these monumental keepsakes left in B.C. forests, let us remember that these magnificent trees, and the sensitive ecosystems they nourish, are also at great risk of disappearing.

The health of our environment’s future is deeply rooted in their protection, as is the protection of our people’s past, especially that of Indigenous Peoples.

It is irresponsible and irreverent to demolish trees that have taken up to a millennium to grow. Must they, too, be added to the long list of Earth’s resources destroyed by greed and short-sighted gain?

I’m not against wood products, but why are we not harvesting sustainably using younger growth and careful forest management so we can protect these ancient treasures?

To echo Sonia Furstenau’s sentiment expressed in a recent interview: “Until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at a very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.”

It’s time the B.C. government upholds the promise in its 2020 strategic report to protect our old-growth forests.

Larissa Fielding


Outdated legislation kept us in the game

Irrespective of whether one looks on the cruise-ship industry favourably or not, the fact that Victoria saw upward of 200 dockings annually was due entirely to a legal anachronism dating back to the 19th century that will likely be rescinded permanently.

The cruise-ship industry has lobbied for many years to have the so-called “Jones Act” struck, pointing out that while it was intended to protect American shipping interests in the 19th and 20th centuries, it is outdated inasmuch as the vast majority of cruise ships that ply North America waters are, in fact, American-owned.

The largest cruise-ship company is the Carnival Corporation, which owns 87 large cruise ships that it operates under various corporate names.

Carnival’s corporate head offices are in Miami, Florida, and a number of other cruise-ship companies, not part of the Carnival conglomerate, also maintain their corporate head offices in the United States. Given the economic importance of the cruise industry to U.S. companies like Carnival and others, a legal anachronism from more than a century ago is not going to stand in the way for long, and Victoria, along with Ensenada, Baja California, will pay a huge price in the short term. And should the “act” be permanently struck, the long-term economic impact is massive.

Very few of the cruise ships that docked at Ogden Point ever stayed for a full day and in many cases it was less than six hours.

Victoria was not a major destination on any of the major cruises and arguably it was more of distraction and an unnecessary expense than a real destination, entirely due to outdated legislation that companies like Carnival have lobbied for years to have struck for those reasons.

For those who have fussed and fumed about the cruise-ship industry and the related environmental havoc, your dreams may well have come true. For those who depend on tourism for their livelihoods — well, it was nice while it lasted.

James P. Crowley

North Saanich

If we can’t even smile, how do we greet each other?

There’s no denying that these are tough times. Tension is high for so many reasons, especially when we’re sharing public space.

In close quarters like grocery store aisles, I notice I’m even instinctively avoiding eye contact, partly out of politeness.

I don’t want to further invade people’s closely guarded personal space, especially essential workers.

The main reason, though, is that it is darn awkward to make eye contact without a smile! I find myself grinning like an idiot — but under three layers of cotton, you’d never know it.

I spent the last few months perfecting my smile (smiling with my eyes) but the arrival of sunglasses season is throwing a wrench in that.

Smiling is a social lubricant. It shows warmth and good will, something we need now more than ever.

And masks are certainly not going anywhere.

So tell me, Victorians: How are we to greet each other in passing in 2021? Bring back a tip of the hat? Or something new?

I know my smile isn’t the only one going to waste under there.

Mayana Slobodian



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