Saturday, 22 March 2008
Tribes and Tributes. Part Two.
April 4th, 1969, a rainy Good Friday morning. We had gathered at the steps of Vancouver City Hall, all united in the same cause; To help the native people; To increase awareness of their plight.
This was the start of the most memorable Easter weekend of my life. We prepared ourselves for day one of our three day, one hundred mile walk. 'Moccasin Miles' had begun and this fifteen your old lad was thrilled with the anticipation of the great adventure that lay before us.
Through the incessant pouring rain, we finally reached out first destination. Completely drenched, it was so comforting to be inside the warm shelter of Langley Secondary High School. Our first day's travel had brought us almost thirty miles east of Vancouver. Time to relax, time to dry out and prepare ourselves for a night that will be firmly engrained in the minds of so many.
That evening, in the high school gymnasium, we were treated to a 'Pow Wow'. Pow Wow, a sensory delight of dancing, music and a traditional native people's feast. The chants, the festive and spiritual songs, were of joy and celebration. The pounding of the native drums had a powerful effect on this young, wide-eyed, teenage boy. Humanity, from all walks of life, bonded that night in respect and admiration for the tribes of British Columbia.
It was getting late, the Pow Wow drew to a conclusion. It was time to get some sleep, we slept in classrooms. I headed into a room and found a spot to place my sleeping bag. I looked around and realised I was the only white person in the room. All around me were native people from the great tribes of British Columbia.
I felt no discomfort being the only white guy in that classroom. Why should I? Then the good-natured banter began. They noticed me and proceeded to mention a sign that had been placed on the window of the classroom door. "Think you had better read the sign on the door" they chuckled. Clambering over a collection of sleeping bags, I stumbled to the door and read the sign. 'No white men allowed', it stated. Upon my reading it, everyone in the room started to laugh. I laughed too, it was just a bit of fun.
That night in the classroom, we broke down the barriers, we knew that to stigmatise someone because of the colour of their skin, or the sterotypes society had imposed, was to devalue them as human beings. I like to think that I base my perceptions on how people are towards me. To pass judgement, based on misconceptions, is a crime on humanity. Reflecting upon that wonderful day, I drifted off to sleep, the sound of the native drums, a gentle lull in my mind.
I call upon the First Nation's people. May your spirituality continue to inspire me.