Letters June 8: We are all guilty of Indigenous abuse; Beacon Hill Park scarred in the public mind

Indigenous children need changes today

The news from Kamloops brings horror-inducing revulsion at the treatment of those Indigenous children in those institutions.

But, what will we say of ourselves in future years about our failure to provide the Indigenous children in First Nations with clean drinking water, adequate housing, proper health care, and supports to prevent the scourge of suicides on reserves.

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Pointing fingers at those deserving of our disgust for their past abuses is easy. Our failures today can be just as deadly.

Why has the Canadian government continued to fight in courts against the needs of today’s Indigenous children? Why? Systemic racism is why!

We are all guilty and we must change. The evidence is everywhere and cannot be ignored.

Bill Williamson
Saanich

Residential-school revelations explain a lot

When I was a young boy growing up in Calgary in the late 1950s and 1960s, there was a common belief that Indigenous people were just lazy people always wanting handouts and typically drunk on cheap booze.

They were to be avoided and ignored whenever one was encountered, and the jokes always flowed freely. TV westerns of the day typically reinforced these beliefs.

I recall a time at the Calgary Stampede an inebriated Indigenous man just quietly standing alone in the mass of people walking along the midway was sucker punched by a cowboy, left lying on the ground with a bewildered look on his bleeding face. Nobody helped.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

The physical and emotional pain that was inflicted on Indigenous people in this failed attempt to force them into our white Christian society is mind boggling.

How can anyone go through all that and not be damaged in the process? I truly apologize for having been a part of all that.

Maurice Lapierre
Qualicum Beach

Public perception of Beacon Hill Park

It’s interesting to note that all of the attention about camping in Beacon Hill Park has focused on the campers (the lack of housing) or scarring of the park (damage done to grounds).

I have seen nothing that discusses “scars” left on the public mind, as the park transformed from a place of pre-camping safety to a place filled with threat, as the public nature of the park was compromised.

I welcome the two-year camping “reprieve” the park is being given by the city, and will do what I can to monitor the evolution of public perception.

I hope, of course, that bad memories, fear and public reluctance to use the park, or residual feelings of caution, have only a short life, and that the park returns to an atmosphere of complete safety; but worry that the freedom of use associated with the assumption of complete safety, once reduced or curtailed, doesn’t necessarily rebound just because circumstances objectively warrant a change back.

I’m not sure public memory works that way, and speculate that some things, especially qualitative things, once taken away, aren’t so easily restored. I look forward to learning how this plays out in public perception of our great park.

Gene Miller
Victoria

Turning Trutch into Truth

The city is proposing to rename Fairfield’s Trutch Street, making it Truth Street, as a rejection of the racist views of B.C.’s first lieutenant-governor, Joseph Trutch.

He’s the man who referred to our Indigenous hosts as “utter savages.”

To those who whine about the cost of renaming, reprinting, re-mapping etc., I say: “It’s easy. Just remove the C. C for Colonialism.”

Anne Moon
Victoria

Different thoughts on ringing bike bells

I am an avid Spandex-wearing cyclist, 72 this year, who has a bell on one of five bikes.

The major trails in the morning commute are chock-a-block full of cyclists, and if bell ringing was common, my right thumb would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, pedestrians would all have tinnitus, and the city would sound like the City Hall clock at noon.

Separation of cyclists and pedestrians on sections of commuter trails now exceeding 2,000 riders a day is being proposed and it will be interesting to see the public input on that survey.

When using my “shopping bike” — the one with the bell (also the one least missed if stolen) — I ring a warning to pedestrians that I pass.

I also appreciate greatly a little hand motion from the pedestrians acknowledging that they heard my bell.

When I see the pedestrians with a phone stuck to their ear, or headphones on, I do not ring my bell.

Using a more high-powered bike, I try to avoid pedestrians and head to the road. On the occasion that I’m on a trail without a bell, my new favourite warning is using my voice: “DING DING.”

I love it because it nearly always gets a smile or wave.

We have good and bad drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Let’s all try to be good.

Michael Faulkner
Oak Bay, but soon to be View Royal

Don’t use that bell, cyclists, just yell

A recent Steve Wallace column call for bikes to have bells will not produce the benefits he envisions.

There are better ways for cyclists to warn pedestrians and other cyclists they are passing them.

Those of us who are hard of hearing and, like me, 100 per cent deaf in one ear, might find it very hard to hear the bell if there is other noise nearby, especially traffic.

It is also not easy to determine where the bell is coming from if one can only hear in one ear. The best warning is when back a bit, yell “passing on your left.” At times being either a cyclist or pedestrian, I find this is the clearest and advises me the best of the overtaking person’s intentions.

Strangely, some people hear this warning as “jump to your left and squat down in the middle of the trail with a look similar to a deer caught in the headlights and play chicken with the approaching cyclist.”

Part of the pedestrian-cyclist conflict is caused when both travel on the right side of the trail. If we had pedestrians on the left and wheeled vehicles on the right, there would be less of an opportunity for these conflicts.

It is illogical to mix users of different natural speeds of transportation in a way that creates multiple overtaking situations.

Typically, the slowest person on a bike is faster than the fastest pedestrian.

Norm Ryder
Central Saanich

Garbage-bin issue needs government action

Re: “Nanaimo-area residents urged to deter bears by putting garbage out only on collection day,” June 4.

The article makes some good points, but Nanaimo’s reality is somewhat different.

Thousands of households leave their garbage bins outside unsecured 24/7, especially after the new larger bins were implemented.

Council has been requested to take action so we don’t end up having to kill habituated wildlife, but the response from Mayor Leonard Krog is “we don’t want to use heavy-handed government tactics.”

Sadly, emails and press reminders aren’t working, and Krog’s suggestion that “good citizens should go door to door begging their neighbours to secure their garbage bins” seems unrealistic.

Without proper enforcement of garbage bin protocol, more wild animals will die needlessly.

S.I. Petersen
Nanaimo

Marbled murrelet brings hope to us all

For bird-lovers, there was a ray of hope recently. The secretive, rare, endangered marbled murrelet was seen fishing in Saanich Inlet.

This little bird is old-growth dependent. It probably flew all the way from Goldstream. They nest on a thick branch high up in big old trees.

The first nest was discovered in 1974.

Heather Graham
Victoria

Public school system needs proper funding

Re: “School music program backers ready for last stand against cuts,” May 13.

It is unforgivable that major cuts are taking place regarding Victoria’s public education programs.

The words of the board chair, “we absolutely admire the passion behind the protests” and “there is no magic pot of money” and “we want to see no cuts at all” are hollow and meaningless.

No doubt the board is working hard to try to “balance” the budget, but that just means cuts. What is needed is an ambitious and decisive approach to increasing revenue, which is the responsibility of both the board and the provincial government.

It is clear that the funding allocation process is failing. Where to get the money is not the problem.

Victoria is one of the wealthiest cities in Canada and the real estate market is red hot, maybe the hottest market in Canada. Millions are being collected via the provincial property transfer tax.

Surely that “pot” could be tapped.

In any case, to increase funding, the board needs to think outside the box and aggressively press the province, perhaps emulating the passion they so admire behind the students’ protest.

The provincial government has a fiduciary responsibility to properly fund education, and the board has to do more to gain this funding. Accepting the status quo is not an option.

The public school system cannot and should not be underfunded.

Robert Milan
Victoria

Arrests won’t resolve this forestry conflict

I have for decades been witness to many protests related to the harvesting method and management of forest resources in British Columbia.

Protest successes have often been one-off designations of specific protected areas, but have not led to systemic change in forest management.

On April 30, 2020, the report “A New Future For Old Forests” was submitted to the B.C. government. This was a strategic review of how B.C. can effectively manage for old forests within its ancient ecosystems.

The resulting outcomes from the recommendations would provide healthy ecosystems, effective management and public support.

As a society, we are facing issues ranging from pandemics to climate change that are leading us to a paradigm shift in our relationship with the environment; maintaining forest biodiversity is an essential component of a healthy ecosystem and is a core principle of the report.

Effective management of our “old forests” means managing for ecosystem health, which represents the present shift in public values.

The report spends significant time discussing the importance of public engagement and the provincial and Indigenous governments’ relationship in the process.

There is much work to be done and it is incumbent on the province to begin the process. The report recommends deferral of harvesting in critical old forest areas that may be facing irreparable harm and subject these to priority review.

Based on recent protests, Fairy Creek and the surrounding area seem to be one of these critical areas.

This is not an issue that can be ignored, nor is it one that governments can arrest their way out of.

Roald Anderson
Victoria

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