Esk’etemc hereditary chief Francis Johnson Jr. (left) chats with Cariboo Fire Centre manager Mike Gash after an Wednesday in the Gibraltar Room after a special event where personnel from various government ministries were invited to view a new film about Esk’etemc and hear a panel discussion. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Esk’etemc hosts meeting with government personnel

“It’s very rare for beauty and strength to come together and that’s what I saw today,” Wassenaar said of the film.

Beauty and strength together.

That’s how Bev Wassenaar, a senior advisor with First Nations Relations with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRO), described Ctsenmewsctem re Stsmemelt Showing the Way for the Children, a newly-released film about Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake).

Wassenaar was one of about 100 personnel from various government ministries from Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Quesnel who attended a special-invite event held at the Gibraltar Room recently to screen the film, hear a panel discussion with Esk’etemc hereditary chiefs Francis Johnson Jr. and Wilfred Robbins Sr., and the Headmen (elected) Chief Fred Robbins, Robert Johnson, William Chelsea Sr. and Patricia Chelsea.

“It’s very rare for beauty and strength to come together and that’s what I saw today,” Wassenaar said of the film.

Chief Robbins said the key message he wanted people to take away was that his community needs to start exercising its rights and title on the land.

“We don’t want to live inside the little box Indian Affairs put us in,” Robbins said.

Read more: B.C. First Nations chief takes to Fraser River in DFO protest

Mike Pedersen, regional executive director with the FLNRO, thanked the panel for allowing them to be there and work through what they saw in the film.

“For me the story that I heard around the culture and the language and the rooting of that culture and language is a piece that when I’m having conversations with the communities there’s a gap for me there. I’m looking at it, I’m trying to appreciate and understand it and then know how I need to have a conversation with the communities knowing that’s what roots those communities.”

Pedersen said he thinks all of them who are working in government strive to work through that gap and even understand what they think the gap is.

Responding William Chelsea Sr. said that gap is going to be there for a long time.

“We’ve moved back after being under the Department of Indian Affairs for so long and all the other government departments, like forestry, to fill in the culture that we lost,” Chelsea said.

Chief Robbins said the community was in the treaty process for a long time but never saw any results.

Eventually a referendum was held during a band election and 82 per cent voted against pursuing a treaty, 12 per cent said no, and 12 per cent said yes.

Additionally, 87 per cent of the community voted in favour of having both a traditional style and elected system of government.

“Hopefully I’ve closed that gap for you and you have an understanding of where we are at with that,” Robbins said. “For now the treaty process is on the shelf, and we have both styles of government working together and that way the whole community can be involved in a lot of decisions that are made in the future.”

Mark Hamm, deputy manager of the Cariboo Fire Centre, said it was great to see people like Arthur Dick and Andy Chelsea honoured in the film.

“I think the film presented in a very articulate matter Esk’etemc’s world view,” Hamm said. “Thinking about that world view and the world view of the global economy, and Mr. Trump, that we’re all working in. Between the two there’s a space, and whether that’s a gap that needs to be filled or whether it’s an exciting space where we can come to figure out how we work together in that space, it’s a good thing.”

Hereditary Chief Francis Johnson Jr. said the community embarked on healing journey 40 years ago.

“We are still dealing with poverty,” he added. “The average income is $14,000 so we get all the problems that come with poverty.”

Read more: Film about Esk’etemc First Nation premieres June 21 in Williams Lake



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Robbery of local pizzeria foiled

The Williams Lake RCMP are seeking a charge of robbery following the incident

T-wolves claim home-ice advantage for playoffs

Saturday, Williams Lake breezed to an 8-0 trouncing of the Thunder.

Brent Morton returns to the stage Feb. 23 with a fresh, new, musical sound

After almost a year away from the stage focused on his music, this lakecity icon returns

Teacher shares a lifelong passion for music and band with lakecity

For almost eight years now the local band program has flourished thanks to her

WEATHER: Few sunny days but warmer temperatures are on the horizon

Today is forecasted to be the coldest day in the lakecity this week

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read