Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hello Fort Liard and points north

Hello to you volunteers for Frontiers Foundation (FF) way way up in Fort Liard and points north. I want to read your blogs and to contribute, but I don't know how to post anything on your blogs. Can you either tell me or e-mail me via Don Irving (for safety's sake so no hacker gets my e-mail address.)You can check nme out on

Elisabeth and I are heading north to Batchawana Bay on Lake Superior to meet some ex-volunteeers there including Olaf who has been building FF houses there for many years. While there, we expect to meet Brad Henry of CMHC in Ottawa who is inspecting CMHC houses to discover their durability/longevity. He and I and Charlie Catto of FF fully expect to find that the FF houses last longer than the CMHC, which is nice because they cost less to build and are easier to maintain.

All this is for my book tentatively entitled The Spirit Builders, about Catto and the Foundation since the sixties.

As for you, Colleen in Fort Liard, yes you are about to get a shock when winter comes. It gets so cold even down here in balmy Ontario that once in a while in a cold winter night, you can hear the trees exploding as the little humidity left in them expands. If you have a phone, please let Don know your number so you and I can talk, or call me at 705 549 8148 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              705 549 8148      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. I want to hear abut your experiences there, especially with people, to help me with the chapter in my book on you northern volunteers.

Have fun

Jim Bacque

Sunday, September 5, 2010

the spirit builders

Hello all

Elisabeth and I have just returned to hot Ontario after a long visit to cool BC, and to many reserves there. We were interviewing some powerfully interesting people, including Chief George Muldoe at Moricetown. He is the chief of the Wet'su'wet people of the village and a survivor of the Canadian residential school system. He cooperated with Charles Catto of Frontiers Foundation/Operation Beaver in 1977-80 to rebuild or build new, some two dozen houses, badly needed in the village. The prospective owners, and or others in the village, worked with 38volunteers from around the world and of course Canada. At the end, the band graciously renamed the main street of the area Beaver Road.

At nearby Hag Wil Get we also talked to the brave and beautiful Chief Dora Wilson whose grandmother and mother both set her an example in 1945 by refusing to allow white people to take her away to be "educated" in the system that pained her friend George. Chief Dora also cooperated with Operation Beaver/Frontiers Foundation to build houses, but her greatest contribution was probably to lead the claim process for compensation for salmon lost because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada illegally dynamited part of the Bulkley River. This wrecked the salmon fishery which had sustained the band for hundreds of years. After years of litigation partly funded by the Government of Canada, Chief Wilson and the band won an enormous settlement--$21.5 million--with which the village has set up a trust fund to improve local life through education, recreation and the arts.
This almost miraculous result and the work of Frontiers Foundation have confirmed my thought that "Yes, there is hope for the white man."
Almost as miraculous is that Dora has planted and tended a pear tree which is yielding fruit despite the cold and high altitude of the region.

We were ably guided and safely driven through this area by the local representative of Frontiers, Don Irving--thanks Don.

Ths trip was part of the research I am undertaking for my new book, tentatively entitled The Spirit Builders, about the work of Frontiers Foundation in Canada since 1964--JB