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2008-05-25 8:50 p.m.


Wellll hellllooooooo!
I didn't even know this diary was still alive but what do you know? I'm back. I don't know if anyone is still reading, but if you do drop by, hello my Diaryland friends. I missed you!

Just doing a very Canadian thing - watching a made for television movie on the CBC. It's a really well done little film about Elijah Harper - the first treaty Indian to be elected as a provincial politician (he won a spot on the New Democratic Party in 1981). In 1990, when our prime minister proposed an accord affording Quebec all the trappings of a "distinct society", Harper protested, because Aboriginal people in Canada had not been considered in the negotiations at all and in fact, had never been offered any distinction whatsoever. So, with an eagle feather in his hand, Harper refused to accept the "Meech Lake Accord," as it was called, and as the accord failed to pass in both Manitoba and Newfoundland, the constitution was not amended.

Doesn't sound too exciting, but in 1990 I was eighteen years old, my first love and boyfriend at the time was First Nations (Ktunaxa from Cranbrook BC) and so I had an inside window on the whole thing that a lot of suburban white girls certainly didn't have. Joe had a light blue t-shirt with Elijah Harper's picture on the front and "For Prime Minister" underneath, and we all watched and held our breath as this shy, brave little guy from Manitoba nearly took down the country. Quebec nearly separated after that (a referendum was held and the "stay in Canada" side won by only 1%) and many people blamed Harper, but he was a hero. Nobody cared about what native people thought before and they certainly weren't considered politically, but Meech Lake opened the door for Native people to get active politically.

Joe was my very first boyfriend. We went out from the time I was 16 until I was 20 and though it ended in a whole lot of tears, as first loves often do, it was a really defining relationship for me. Joe and I loved eachother the way you can only love somebody when you're 18 and you've never loved anyone before and I spent a lot of time with his family, out on the reserve in Cranbrook. They were wonderful people and his mother was one of my first non-relative role models. She was the inter-continental chief of all the Kootenays in North America and as one of her first duties when she first became chief around the age that I nearly am now, she shut down the residential school on their reserve.

Anyway, imagine my surprise, the other day, when I turn on the news and there is Joe, the eye-witness to a horrible helicopter crash (you might have heard about it - a BC Hydro helicopter crashed right in the middle of a residential street, killing a college student who was walking to the mailbox to mail a letter). Well I guess Joe was driving down the street, when he saw the copter drop out of the sky and crash right beside his car. Pieces of the machine hit the roof of his car and I guess he tried to save the kid who it landed on but he couldn't.

The television crew must have gotten there quickly because the fire fighters were battling the blaze in the background and Joe was still shaking, the poor guy. He said that all he wanted to do was to get back to his wife and baby (he's a teacher now, like me, and he lives and works back on the res).

He looked older (well, it has been 15 years!) but he had one of his super-bad haircuts like the ones that he always got back in the day. Anyway, he still looked like the same sweet Joe and it was quite something to think of how time flies and how far we've all come in the last fifteen years, not to mention how close he came to being a casualty in that bizarre little news story. "I guess it just wasn't his time to die," my mom said, when we talked about it the other day. I guess it wasn't. I bet he's a good teacher, and I'm glad he's going to be around to teach some more.

:: more as it happens...

Calgary (mountain standard) time:

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