Letters: Principles count in indigenous affairs; Courses enable communication; Why vilify cats?

Principles count in indigenous affairs

I am delighted that Powell River and Tla’amin Nation have received public recognition of their healthy relationship (“Treaty Commission praises relations,” September 27).

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The story rightly reflects the hard work and goodwill of specific individuals such as hegus Clint Williams, mayor Dave Formosa and former mayor Stewart Alsgard.

As former MP for Powell River, I observed firsthand the healthy relationship between hegus, mayor and regional district and worked closely with them. Among other things, we together precipitated unprecedented amounts of federal government cooperation and investment in Powell River.

However, it’s a pity that in indigenous affairs, things tend to be painted in black and white tones. Nuances and middle ground become the victim of polarized thinking. Leaders and media find themselves speaking half-truths that undermine good, long-term results.

Williams stating that, as former MP, I “was blocking the first nation’s attempts at communicating with the federal government” is just wrong. In fact, Williams initially brought me into the discussion when a fisheries issue was impeding progress on the treaty negotiation. As a member of the fisheries committee and a consistent supporter of treaty-making in general, I sought and got a resolution to that issue that allowed progress on the Tla’amin treaty.

Throughout my career as a lawyer in indigenous affairs and a politician I have consistently stood up for equality and human rights. We should never allow the law of any community, religious group or aboriginal group to prevail over Canadian law.

The unity of our country, its peace, order and good government, and the equal rights of Canadians, depend on our being governed by one law, equal for all, regardless of race, colour or creed.

While our constitution, the Indian Act and court decisions have led us in other directions, we as Canadians need to vigorously pursue equality whenever we get the chance.

For the long-term peace, order and good government of our country, and for the benefit of indigenous and non-indigenous people, we Canadians ought at every turn to promote equality in treaties, words and deeds.

John Weston
Former West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP

 

Courses enable communication

As my group has emigrated from Asia to live permanently in BC, we need to learn English as a second language [“VIU monitors adult education,” September 13]. This is very necessary for reading, writing and speaking to communicate with people here, so we can be understood and speak correctly.

We want the people in charge locally to reconsider bringing Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses back for the following reasons.

People from other countries have a primary need for English education in order to understand Canada. We need to work and master English; without it, everything is harder for us. We need to become Canadian citizens; to do that, we must speak competently in an interview and pass an exam. Also, people new to this country have limited funds.

In response to the new government policy of exempting fees for ABE courses, please give the ABE courses back to us for more English lessons so we will be part of the people of Canada.

Nicky Dechtheerapong
Selkirk Avenue

 

Why vilify cats?

Most people wouldn’t think of leaving Tweety’s bird cage door open if there was a Sylvester living in the house. Sometimes outdoor birds also need help to be safer [“Counterpoint: Keep your cats indoors,” July 19].

A low-to-the-ground bird feeder or bird bath with space underneath for a cat to hide is risky for birds. Sometimes making a few changes can be enough to keep the aesthetics and ensure wild birds are safe.

Cats have been accused of killing birds for fun. Well-fed humans kill birds for sport and humans kill and eat millions of birds per year, so why vilify cats? They are not vegetarians.

[Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society founder] Merrilee Prior stated that 25 per cent of the birds she takes in are from cat attacks [“Letters: Cats cause trouble,” September 13]. That means 75 per cent of the birds are there for other reasons.

Peer review is limiting. Facts, information and knowledge from other sources are left out. A recent National Post article addresses the decline of the bobolink, a small songbird that often nests on the ground. The article states that an estimated 667,000 of its young are mowed down by farming equipment before they can fly; their decline is also attributed to loss of habitat due to urbanization.

I am opposed to a cat bylaw and everything it would stand for: pets being harmed, scapegoated or killed.

Carmen Ward
Hillcrest Avenue

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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