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

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