July 2, 2015
This blog post was published by Victoria's Times Colonist online column, "Spiritually Speaking".
I was born in Kitimat, but didn’t know a lot about the Indigenous kids in Kitimaat Village. They were across the channel from us, too far away for me to know. We moved to Flin Flon when I was 12, at the time a white/European community surrounded by thousands of Cree on various reserves in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I didn’t know much about them either. They weren’t in town a lot, weren’t all that welcome in restaurants and hotels. Not in some of the stores either.
Looking back I can see we lived in a racist culture. It wasn’t as easily seen then as it is now. Although it should have been. I served drinks in the Royal Hotel, the only bar in Flin Flon that would serve First Nations customers. Not out of any sense of altruism or human rights. No, we were told to keep ‘them’ in ‘their’ section, no straying into the other seats, to serve ‘them’ until they were too drunk to drink any more, then toss ‘them’ out to make room for the next one.