Author Tags: Environment, First Nations, Literary Landmarks, Religion
LITERARY LOCATION: Bell tower, Fraser River Heritage Park, Mission. DIRECTIONS: Drive east for an hour-and-forty minutes from Vancouver. In Mission, ascend Stave Lake Street, turn right onto 5th Avenue and proceed east to park.
Constructed in 2000, a bell tower contains the original bell for the St. Mary's Residential School that was cast in West Troy, New York in 1875. It was used at the school until 1965. In 1999, the bell was donated to the park by the Stó:lo First Nation whose nearby Pekw'Xe:yles Indian Reserve is located between Lower Hatzic Slough and D'Herbomez Creek at 34110 Lougheed Highway. Terry Glavin's Amongst God's Own examines the history of the residential school that was opened by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1863.
Originally located near the Fraser River, the first St. Mary's school was intended for boys only, housing 42 students in its first year. The Sisters of Saint Ann opened a second school for girls in 1868. The schools was relocated further up the hill due to railway expansion. The city-run Heritage Park on the school century-old site also contains graves for Oblate priests, nuns and students associated with the school. The 50-acre park was created in 1986 after Norma Kenney lobbied relentlessly for preservation of the site.
Founded in 1816, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were a Catholic order of missionaries sworn to convert the poor and dispossessed of the Earth. Led by Father Fouquet, a fanatical insomniac, the Oblates set up schools and churches in the hopes of teaching ‘civilization’ to the Sto:lo of the Fraser Valley. Initially the Stó:lô accepted this offer of seemingly good intentions and were in awe of these prophets who carried cures in a bottle. They even accepted the placement of their children in residential schools. But, according to Terry Glavin in his Amongst God’s Own, the schools became “little better than vectors of disease and pedophilia.”
Not advertised by park signage are the gloomy stone walls and a descending staircase for the boys' dormitory on the site, dating from 1884. A small plaque in the earth does not provide any context. Most visitors prefer to visit the first Marian site erected in B.C. in 1892, now towering above the grounds as the refurbished Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes--a six-sided cupola shrine with stained glass skylights.
Amongst God's Own was an initiative of Bill Williams and the Mission Indian Healing Foundation, funded through the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. In it, Glavin presents the testimonies of 45 Stó:lo survivors who tell of their past experiences, good and bad, in St. Mary’s Mission, where passion plays were enacted into the 20th century. These first-hand accounts document the lives of Sto:lo children who were forbidden to speak their own language and often beaten as punishment. With federal funding, the original St. Mary’s school was adopted as a model for more Oblate-run schools in Cranbrook, Williams Lake and Kamloops. St. Mary's Mission school did not close until 1961. In the early days, mail arrived to the school and its Oblate teachers was addressed to "The Mission," giving rise to the name of Mission, B.C.
Born in the United Kingdom to Irish parents in 1955, Glavin immigrated in 1957 to Canada where he was raised in Burnaby. As a journalist and author, he has primarily been an advocate for indigenous peoples and the protection of the environment. "Personally," Terry Glavin has cryptically remarked, I am not a big fan of apartheid."
Along with Stephen Hume, Terry Glavin has been at the forefront of journalistic exploration of British Columbia as a psychological, physical and political environment. A former Vancouver Sun journalist, Glavin began his writing career with Georgia Straight and later returned to that publication as a bi-weekly columnist about British Columbia culture at large. As a freelancer writer, Glavin lived on Mayne Island before moving to Victoria in 2007.
Glavin has received numerous awards, including the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence in 2009. He has also edited the Transmontanus series for New Star Books and was a founding member of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. He increasingly veered towards covering foreign affairs in his late 50s.
Glavin's A Death Feast in Dimlahamid, written in support of native land claims, takes its name from a 22,000-sq.-mile city-state that Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en tribes maintain was situated near the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers. It was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.
This Ragged Place, a collection of essays and freelances pieces, was shortlisted for a Governor General's Award.
Terry Glavin's hard-hitting expose of the collapse of West Coast fisheries is Dead Reckoning.
Co-published with the David Suzuki Foundation, Glavin's The Last Great Sea takes readers on a journey through the human and natural history of the North Pacific Ocean. It’s a broad subject and one he delves into valiantly, showing how the ocean has shaped man’s passage throughout time—his movement across land, his hunting and dietary habits and his evolution—and how that passage has, in turn, altered the distribution of the species around him, particular, the fish.
Due to its breadth, metaphorical and otherwise, The Last Great Sea requires some knowledge of anthropological terms, continental drift and marine biology--with references to the Cordilleran ice mass, the Beringian Tradition and the Aleutian chain, etc. The North Pacific, we are told, relinquishes 25 million tons of fish each year, an amount roughly equal to the weight of the human population of Canada and the United States.
Glavin re-examines archaeological evidence and introduces us to the oral history of tribes like the Sto:lo and the Katzie. He frequently resists and refutes orthodox interpretations of the human and natural world, revealing their oft-shaky foundations and the extent to which they crumble under the weight of new information. Our understanding of the salmon species, for example, has its roots in the theories of a 17th century medical student called Linnaeus, who, though a brilliant man, could not provide a reliable account of the history of the fish.
“The contribution that salmon make to terrestrial ecosystems deep within the continents surrounding the North Pacific has never been fully acknowledged by science,” Glavin insists. “The picture that emerges is of animals that arise from the depths of the Pacific to make journeys that take them inland, often far beyond the coastal landscape, and that do not stop migrating when they spawn and die.”
Terry Glavin leads his reader hopefully into the Sixth Great Extinction epoch with Waiting for the Macaws, a survey of our fellow species, some of which are dearly departed. This is an even more engaging book than Glavin’s preceding panorama of the North Pacific because we glean natural history facts during his visits to Singapore, County Clare, Costa Rica, the Eastern Himalayas, Siberia and the Lofoten Islands in the North Atlantic.
See reviews below.
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
A Death Feast in Dimla-Hamidt
A Voice Great Within Us: The Story of Chinook
Sturgeon Reach: Shifting Currents at the Heart of the Fraser
A Death Feast in Dimlahamid (New Star 1990, 1998)
Nemiah: The Unconquered Country (New Star, 1992). With the people of Nemiah Valley; photographs by Gary Fiegehen, Rick Blacklaws and Vance Hanna
A Ghost in the Water (Transmontanus 1, New Star, 1994)
Dead Reckoning: Confronting the Crisis in Pacific Fisheries (D&M 1996)
This Ragged Place: Travels Across the Landscape (New Star 1996, 1998)
A Voice Great Within Us (Transmontanus 7, New Star, 1998). With Charles Lillard.
The Last Great Sea: A Voyage through the Human and Natural History of the North Pacific Ocean. (Greystone 2000)
Among God’s Own: The Enduring Legacy of St. Mary's Mission (Longhouse 2002). With former students of St. Mary's.
Waiting for the Macaws: And Other Stories from the Age of Extinctions (Penguin 2006).
Come from the Shadows (D&M 2011) 978-1-55365-782-8 $29.95
Sturgeon Reach: Shifting Currents at the Heart of the Fraser (New Star 2012), with Ben Parfitt.
PHOTO by Barry Peterson
[LITHIS / BCBW 2015] "First Nations" "Environment" "Religion"
A Voice Great Within Us (New Star $16)
Six of eleven aboriginal linguistic families in Canada were indigenous to territories within present-day B.C. Hence cultural diversity, born of the West Coast’s diverse ecological and climatic zones, could well have spawned the trading language of Chinook. In 1788, John Meares, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, recorded a chief named Callicum using the word ‘cloosh’, meaning good. In 1805 the Lewis and Clark expedition, at the mouth of the Columbia River, also recorded use of the word ‘cloosh’, meaning good. The dual use of the same Chinook word indicates cross-fertilization of languages didn’t require the interventions of explorers, traders and missionaries.
In British Columbia, where it was most prevalent, the Chinook language was sometimes used to conduct criminal trials, but by 1962 the Summer Institute of Linguistics estimated only 100 Chinook speakers remained in North America, all of whom were more than 50 years old. As recently as the Sixties and early Seventies, it was not uncommon for home-grown British Columbians to pepper their conversations with words such as ‘klahowya’ (hello), ‘klahanie’ (outdoors), ‘chuck’ (water) and ‘skookum’ (strong), but today few British Columbians realize place names such as Canim Lake and Illahe Mountain are Chinook-based. With the integral partnership of co-author Terry Glavin, the late historian and poet Charles Lillard cobbled together a discussion of the origins and legacy of Chinook in A Voice Great Within Us (New Star $16). Lillard and Glavin’s illustrated compilation provides personal reflections, a lexicon, a gazetteer of Chinook place names and examples of Chinook literature. The authors claim Chinook, a creole language that evolved as a hybrid of aboriginal languages, English and French, was once relied upon by a quarter of a million people. According to Glavin, "Nothing quite like Chinook occurred anywhere else in North America."
Linguistic concoctions, however, were not unprecedented. A creole of Choctaw, Chickasa and French called Mobilian was once spoken around the Gulf of Mexico. Bungay was a pidgin of French, English and Cree in Manitoba. And the Red River Metis spoke the Mechouf languague. But the spread and resilience of Chinook was unparalleled. A Voice Great Within Us dispels the myth that Chinook was ‘invented’ by Father Jean-Marie Le Jeune of Kamloops, possibly Chinook’s most influential progenitor. As a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, he published a mimeographed Chinook newsletter, the Kamloops Wawa, that described itself as “the queerest newspaper in the world.” First published on May 2, 1891, the Wawa was ‘Indian news’ printed in both the English alphabet and a bizarre form of shorthand developed in 1867 by two French clerics, the Duploye brothers. Thanks to the Wawa’s wide circulation, many Native and non-Natives in the B.C. Interior became literate as Duployan readers.
Chinook’s use was first documented as a vocabulary in 1846 by Horatio Hale
after he travelled with the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-42. A history and dictionary of Chinook was compiled for the Smithsonian Institute by George Gibbs in 1863. Gibbs’ work was followed by a ‘manual’ of Chinook, published in London, in 1890, by Hale, then a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. “The language already has the beginning of a literature,” Hale wrote. In his bibliography of Chinookian languages published by the Smithsonian in 1893, James Constantine Pilling listed 175 documents in which Chinook jargon was used. "A common misconception about Chinook,” Glavin writes, “is that it was simply an argot, invented by fur traders, in order to facilitate communication with and among aboriginal trappers associated with the maritime fur traders.” A Great Voice takes pains to rebutt this contention, one most notably voiced by historian F.W. Howay, by citing research by UVic linguist Barbara Harris who claims Chinook arose prior to the influx of Europeans.
Growing up on his parents’ fish scow in Alaska, Charles ‘Red’ Lillard had an abiding fascination for Chinook. Throughout his life he monitored its flexibility and power of expression, initially incorporating its influence into his first poetry collection, Cultus Coulee. In his teens, Terry Glavin encounted Cultus Coulee; then decades later as the editor of New Star’s Transmontanus series, he took the initiative to contact Lillard and suggest a book. Following Lillard’s death on February 24, 1997 at 53, Glavin completed their Chinook volume as a joint project. 0-921586-56-6
[BCBW WINTER 1998] "Chinook"
A Death Feast in Dimlahamid (New Star $16)
Terry Glavin recently went looking for clues as to how the Supreme Court of Canada's Delgamuukw decision had affected Gitksan area residents. He was accompanied by the godfather of his son, 49-year-old logging inspector Wii Seeks -- aka Ralph Mitchell, aka 'Tiger' to his friends. The two men had met at the Suskwa roadblock about ten years ago. "There he is," Wii Seeks says, "There goes Delgamuukw." A man sped past in a shiny, new F-350 pick-up truck at the 38-kilometre mark of the Kispiox Trail. The man short peering over the steering wheel was Earl Muldoe, the latest incarnation of Delgammukw.
The first case known as Delgamuukw versus The Queen began in Smithers on May 11, 1987. It continued off and on for 374 days, accumulating a transcript of 26,000 pages. By the time the Supreme Court of Canada reached its final Delgamuukw decision on December 11, 1997, dismissing Judge Allan McEachern's original ruling, the original chief known as Delgamuukw, Albert Tait, had died. The title passed onto Kenny Muldoe. When he died, the title passed down to Earl Muldoe, a carver who operated a small logging outfit named Totemland Contracting. Glavin didn't get to talk with Earl Muldoe, the newest incarnation of Delgamuukw, but he did interview Kispiox locals for a new, 5,000-word concluding chapter for A Death Feast in Dimlahamid (New Star $16).
Herb George, a Wet'suwet'en chief and vice-president of the Assembly of First Nations, reassures Glavin that Indians are not going to take anyone's private property and that he'll keep repeating that message until he's "blue in the face."
"The Delgamuukw decision," says 64-year-old Alice Maitland, mayor of Hazelton for 23 years, "is going to allow us up here to do what we all know everybody should have been doing all along."
Glavin criticizes scaremongers and doomsayers in Vancouver -- most notably Liberal leader Gordon Campbell, former Socred constitutional advisor Mel Smith, NDP constitutional advisor Gordon Wilson, former B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Gibson and right wing apologists such as Owen Lippert and Martyn Brown -- and provides his own vision of post-Delgamuukw Canada.
"When it comes to understanding the land itself, governments are now obliged to listen when old people talk about the adventures of Wiigyet, the giant who is sometimes raven, and about the wars waged by Medeek, the great bear, and about ancient feasts among the mountain goat people of Stegyawden. In our courts, these old stories now carry equal evidentiary weight with Hudson Bay Company records, mineral-deposit assessments, and timber supply analyses, and these different types of intelligence have to be reconciled. It is the law. It is like we have all finally arrived, somehow, as a country, in this simple thing."
The essence of the Delgamuukw decision is contained in Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Lamer's summation. "Let us face it. We are all here to stay." After Earl Muldoe, there will be another Delgamuukw. And another. And another.
Glavin, the independent B.C. journalist who has monitored the unfolding of the Delgamuukw case as closely as any other, believes reconciliation is possible, necessary and overdue. 0-921586-64-7
[BCBW 1998] "First Nations"
Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence 2009
from Terry Glavin
In his acceptance speech, Terry Glavin cited previous winners of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence and encouraged British Columbians to “find themselves” in local stories—to rebel against the parochial. “This requires not just an alertness to the local, but a conscious rebellion against the parochial, the cosseted, and the preconceived.”
Here are some excerpts.
ACKNOWLEDGING HIS PREDECESSORS
(P.K. Page, Gary Geddes, Patrick Lane, Jack Hodgson, and Robert Bringhurst)
“When I was in high school, I came upon Gary Geddes’ 15 Canadian Poets, which led me to P.K. Page and Pat Lane. Drawn deeper into the interior, upriver, and upcoast, I saw in Jack Hodgson’s Spit Delaney’s Island a magical landscape, in a work of fiction, that I immediately recognized as the real world, which was also a kind of a hidden world that I was only then discovering around me.
“I’d been noticing that there were words in the language I spoke, and I didn’t even know where they came from. They were words like skookum, cultus, hyack, and klootchman.
“I found myself returning, puzzled and awestruck, to the epic stories the old people used to tell in places like Katzie and Popkum and Musqueam.
“I didn’t fully understand why until years later when I read Robert Bringhurst’s translations of the oral literature of the Haida mythtellers, and the stories of Ghandl, the blind poet of Sea Lion Town.
“On the old maps, such works of grandeur and beauty were supposed to be located only in such places as the Ramayana, or the Epic of Gilgamesh.”
ON FALSE IMAGES
“The old maps show Alexander Mackenzie’s route from Canada to the coast in 1793, and you will be told that he was the first white man to do it, and fair play to him, but they do not show the route the Algonquian chief Mongsoaeythinyuwok took on his own overland journey from Lake Michigan to the Pacific in 1728.”
ON JAMES DOUGLAS
“New parochial histories admonish us to be ashamed of our colonial legacy, and fair play to shame. But there is nothing to be ashamed of in our first governor, James Douglas, the grandson of a “free coloured” woman from Barbados, or in Douglas’s wife, Lady Amelia, an Irish Cree, both of whom were followers of the great British abolitionist, William Wilberforce.”
“Unless you’ve been listening to Todd Wong, the animateur of Vancouver’s annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrations, you might not know that the Cantonese merchants of Chinatown were celebrating Robbie Burns Day as far back as the 1930s.”
ON UNIVERSAL VALUES
“If I hadn’t listened closely to old people like Vera Robson on Mayne Island, I would never have known about the white people who fought against the internment of their Japanese neighbours in the 1940s.
“I would not have known that from the camps, the Japanese sent back Christmas cards with maps that showed the places where they’d hidden troves of sake for their islander friends, as presents.
“Those are the maps worth keeping and studying. On those maps are the small kindnesses and the purely local affairs that make up what is universal in
human affairs, and no true story can be told without them.
“Throw away the old maps that don’t show these things. Listen closely to the stories the old people will tell you in places like Gitanmaax and Captain George Town and Yakweakwioose, and you’ll learn that the old maps are wrong, that there are no impenetrable mountain ranges between the wild and the tamed, nature and culture, or language and landscape, and there is no unfathomable sea between east and west.
“Throw out the old compasses, sextants and chronometers. Travel back overland across Canada without them, and you will notice that this is not a western country. It is just as much an eastern country, especially out here, and out here is just as much Canada as anywhere else.
“Take this method with you to such places as the Russian Far East, Afghanistan, or Guangdong, and you will notice the same.
“The compasses that never worked here won’t work there, either, so you put them aside, and you see there is no such thing as “western values,” only universal values.
“There is only the whole world and its stories, and we’re right in the middle of it all, no matter where we are.”