The words on his Dirty Laundry campaign T-shirt read: “I get stopped by the police more often.”
The slogan recalls a trip Wayne Lucier made across Canada in the early 1980s to help a friend move his family back to Ontario.
In Ontario they learned that they could cut four hours off the return trip if they went through the U.S.
The tip didn’t quite pan out as expected.
As soon as they crossed the Canadian border they were pulled over by the U.S. officials. They were strip searched and Wayne’s truck was pulled apart.
The officials didn’t find any contraband, but they did find some minor problems with his truck which they had to fix before they could continue.
The four hours they would have saved evaporated.
Coming back into Canada at a crossing near Winnipeg his truck was searched again.
Then the next day they were stopped by an RCMP officer near Regina.
In conversation with that officer, Wayne said he learned that RCMP were taught that more than 75 per cent of First Nations people with an earring and tattoos had been to jail.
“I hadn’t even spent a single night in the drunk tank,” Wayne said.
Since that trip he has never worn an earring and he keeps most of his tattoos covered.
“I never wanted to put myself in that position again and believe it or not it has never been a problem since,” Wayne said. “But I have never been back to the U.S. and have no desire to go back there again. That was the first and last time. There are so many other beautiful places to see in Canada.”
Wayne was born and raised in San Clara, a very small farming community outside of Rolin, Manitoba.
Although he remembers his family speaking the French/Cree language Michif, as a small child, he said their First Nations heritage was never talked about.
He remembers his older brother, Arnold, being sent home from his first day at school and told not to come back until he could speak English (a year later).
From then on, he said their family only spoke English.
“I think I was 16 or 17 before I ever heard the word Métis,” Wayne said. He heard the word from a teacher who said he would turn out like all the rest of the Métis when she was admonishing him for playing hooky.
At the time he said First Nations people weren’t allowed to vote or go into liquor stores and Métis people were also subject to certain restrictions but he wouldn’t learn any of their history until later in life.
He said Arnold has since traced their family tree back to the wife of Louis Riel.
“But I still have some relatives who are in total denial that they have any native blood,” Wayne said.
Wayne and his wife, Linda Gorda, who he has been with since they were 17, migrated west to Williams Lake soon after high school and have worked and raised their family in Williams Lake.
Linda worked for many years at the Mohawk station and for the past 20 years at Cariboo Memorial Hospital.
Wayne estimates 30 people from his San Clara farming community found their way to Williams Lake over the years for work.
Wayne has worked at many jobs over the years: Super Save gas station manager, bucking and running snippers in the logging industry and in the plywood plant at Jackpine until his back gave out and he switched careers.
After taking retraining courses he has worked for the last 20 years he has worked for various agencies as an addictions counsellor and life-skills coach for youth and adults.
He has worked with various programs around Williams Lake and had the opportunity to lead workshops in remote First Nations communities.
For the last 10 years Wayne has worked for the local Canadian Mental Health Association as an outreach worker for homeless adults.
“If people are absolutely homeless and have no income at all, most of the time I can fast track them to social assistance or other services they may need,” Wayne said.
“Housing is the hardest part of my job right now. We don’t have a lot of affordable housing in Williams Lake.”
He said another problem that he and his fellow outreach workers are trying to have government address, is the need to have people with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosed.
Once diagnosed he said people with this disability qualify for a pension, training and other support programs. “I think government would be amazed at the number of people with FAS who are rotating through our criminal system,” Lucier said. “Until they actually get them some help. That is not going to change.”
“This is not just a B.C. problem it is a Canada wide problem.”
He said there are only three people in B.C. qualified to diagnose an adult with FAS and the cost for that testing is $5,000, which most adults with FAS can’t afford. He said the best option is to have people may have FAS tested while they are still in public school so they don’t fall through the cracks when they become adults.
Last year Wayne said he worked with 111 new clients who he has never worked with before. That is not counting the more than 300 clients he already works with on a periodic or regular basis.
When he is leading a workshop, Wayne said he always has his guitar by his side.
“I come from a very musical family,” Wayne said. “Everyone played a guitar or fiddle and sang. That’s how we entertained ourselves.”
When he first arrived in Williams Lake Wayne would play at the old Lakeview Pub as a one-man-band and with his brother, Arnold, and Pat Myers over the years.
For the past 30-plus years Wayne has also either played in front of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin as the Stampede parade passed that location or played in parade floats for the museum, local Métis association and the draft horse association. For the past nine years Wayne and Linda have also turned their Ninth Avenue yard into a fantastic haunted yard at Halloween and collected donations of non-perishable food items for various local helping agencies.