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 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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

The OT Timber Frames Ltd. crew of Wacey MacDonald (from left), Sean Empey, Josh Douglas, Kurt Leuenberger, Ruedi Baumann, Simon Gansner, Annie Murray (in front) and Josie the dog stand in front of a newly constructed timber frame outdoor classroom for the 150 Mile House Elementary School. (Photo submitted)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read