In a recent article regarding the Williams Lake forestry talks, as written by Monica Lamb-Yorski, where various individuals presented their views, the reporter recorded the comments and presentations by several in attendance.
Tl’esqox Chief Francis Laceese likened the spread of the pine beetle to the small pox epidemic of the 1800s. He argues that “they” spread the bug kill so that “they” can get access to green wood. Do these bugs not have wings?
He further goes on to say, “You spread the bug kill around just like you spread small pox around back in the 1800s.” Regarding the small pox epidemic he argues “You tried to annihilate us.”
It is true that some greedy men did take some blankets from native corpses and resold them to other natives causing some spread of small pox. This was not the government; this was the action of criminals. And as criminals they should have, and would have, faced justice had they been caught. It is my understanding that these same greedy men also died of small pox.
What troubles me about his comments regarding both small pox and beetle kill is a continuous living in the past and of teaching our young to hate. When will reason prevail and society move forward?
According the World Health Organization 350 to 500 million people died from small pox, and why did so many in the world die? Simply they had no immunity to this disease. The reason why native populations succumbed to small pox is because they, as other millions before them, had no immunity to this disease.
We, the population of the Cariboo Chilcotin, need to have a round table discussion, a large round table where First Nations sit side by side with non First Nations, where we all can share our feelings, where we could put hate aside and learn of each other and learn to love and forgive. We need to do this; otherwise even another 100 years from now there will still be those who are teaching their children to hate. I see absolutely no reason to dislike or even not to love all those who live and are striving for survival in our greater community. As society has Remembrance Day, possibly what is needed here is also a First Nations day of remembrance so that we all can move forward.