Bill Peacock passed away last September. He had been suffering from cancer of the liver for the past six months. It was a painful time made worse by hepatitis C and Bill knew that his chances of survival were not good.
He had survived life on the streets of Montreal as a young man and was able to dry up in Calgary after years of drinking. Bill never backed down from a fight, unfortunately no one has gone the distance with the Big C.
He will be remembered by many native writers as a pioneer who published one of the first aboriginal newspapers in Canada. In the early seventies with no financial support from either banks or government; Bill started publishing a native monthly newspaper in Calgary. It was a project long overdue and he showed the way for many native publishers who were inspired by his example.
He moved to Vancouver in the eighties. Now a seasoned AA member, he devoted most of this time to helping people with alcoholic and drug problems working at the recovery club in downtown Vancouver.
Inspired by his own experience and the people he had met from the program, Bill started writing about the ravages caused by alcohol and drugs among the First Nations. His stories written under the pen name Elmer Wildblood appeared in the First Nations Drum and were destined for a book until the cancer became so painful he was unable to continue.
As a tribute to Bill, readers will find reprints of selected stories that have appeared in the Drum over the past few years, in the Culture section of this Web site, starting with ‘Drumbeats of the Heart’. There are touches of humour and a sense of compassion that contrast with the plight of many of his characters.