Annual Downtown Eastside: Heart of the City Festival

The 14th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival will take place during October 25 to Sunday November 5, 2017 in Vancouver. Over 100 events at over 50 locations throughout 12 days of music, stories, songs, poetry, cultural celebrations, films, theatre, dance, processions, spoken word, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibitions, mixed media, art talks, history talks and history walks.

The theme of the 2017 Festival, Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside, pays tribute to women from all walks of life in the Downtown Eastside past and present.

A special feature this year is the premiere of MISSING a new chamber opera that gives voice to the story of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women. The libretto is by the distinguished First Nations playwright Marie Clements and the composer is Juno-award winner Brian Current. Produced by City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria in partnership with Vancouver Moving Theatre/DTES Heart of the City Festival, MISSING will open in the Downtown Eastside for a private invitational audience then continue for the public at the York Theatre starting on November 3.

Other Festival highlights include: Summoning (No Words), an interactive sound installation in response to global incidents of violence against women; performances of Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone, that tells the story of two friends who face life at the edge, weaving contemporary choreography and storytelling through an indigenous lens, featuring storyteller Rosemary Georges on (Coast Salish/Dene) and dance artists Olivia C. Davies (Welsh/Metis-Anishnawbe) and Emily Long; the fabulous voices of Dalannah Gail Bowen, Renae Morriseau, Helen Duguay and Sara Cadeau in Women in the Round; and the always popular evening of jazz at Carnegie Theatre with Jazz Confluence: Carnegie Jazz Band with Brad Muirhead Quartet & Four Special Female Jazz Musicians.

The mandate of the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival is to promote, present and facilitate the development of artists, art forms, cultural traditions, heritage, activism, people and great stories about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The festival involves a wide range of professional, community, emerging and student artists, and lovers of the arts. Over 1,000 local artists and Downtown Eastside residents participated in last year’s 2016 Festival.

Other highlights include Walking Tours. The Festival is pleased to present a new walking tour with Marcia Toms to shed light on the vital work of women in the home and the Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhoods. Marcia draws stories of women from many different cultures and marginalized backgrounds who most often worked outside of the realm of organized labour. Born and raised in Vancouver, Marcia is a retired educator, advocate for public education and has a passion for local social history. To all interested, meet at Ovaltine Cafe, 251 E. Hastings on Sunday Oct 29, at 11am.

Also, Sneak Peek into Chinatown: Join hosts Judy Lam Maxwell and Steven Wong for a glimpse of Chinatown. Judy leads Historical Chinatown Tours and Steven is third generation ‘man about town’ in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Meet at Sai Woo, 158 E. Pender, on Saturday Nov 4, at 11am, and $10, pay what you can for local residents.

Many events are free or by suggested donation. Visit for full details.


Like most of you, I have never really pondered my own self worth. It’s a subject, I feel, that would only appeal to the lonely, the vain or someone who is contemplating their mortality.

In the name of truth; I’ll admit that I’m a little from each column.

Speaking of columns, the reason that you haven’t seen my wit in type is because I leave every summer and travel from town to town painting windows for different events.

On my journeys I spend a lot of time behind the wheel chasing an endless horizon. Between the drum of the music and the hum of the tires a person can get hypnotized – it gives a person’s mind time to wonder into uncharted scenarios.

Take for instance you’ve crossed paths with a rude dude who snapped at you for no good reason. Not only did he ruin that moment, your mind takes the rest of the day to ponder that jerks fate.

Some of you might imagine his head bursting into flames, while others might feel sorry for that rude, inconsiderate ugly person. Some people might even go as far as to punch him on the nose, while others just wish they could do it – to me, the worst thing of all, is thinking of a great retort – too late, and after the fact.

During my long drives and hotel stays, I get lonely. Other than me the TV and the four walls, the only thing to break the ice is my imagination.

Now, this is where we may, or may not vary. The reason for that statement is because I’m an artist, and I’ve been told that we, artsy folks, think differently, and I believe it to be true.

A relentless imagination can be both a blessing and a curse. It can help me think outside the box, and it can also create beautiful art out of life’s blood, sweat and tears. The down side is that I can feel alone in a room full of normal people.

This is where my vanity comes creeping in and asking the question: what is my own self worth, and how do I measure it? Is my value determined by what others think of me or is it what I think of others?

Do we have ‘stations’ in life? And who in the name of heaven or hell gets to determine that?

Will a day come when people stand over my grave and wail we will miss you or will they spill a stream of used beer on my epitaph?

I warned you that I think out of the box – maybe I should write you a happy ending.

I’m a big believer in Karma, what goes around comes around and you are what you eat – just kidding about that last one, but you get my drift.

One day I was feeling sorry for myself, thinking that my business is down but my bills go up. I’m a reasonable person, I don’t harm man nor beast and I’m productive not destructive, yet there are times when I just feel like throwing in the towel and saying what’s the use?

Later that day I attended an event and was greeted with open arms by friends, acquaintances and even a few of my readers. They all smiled and said the same thing: “Where have you been?”

That felt like a million bucks of self worth.


Please feel free to Email Bernie Bates at:


A lot of businesses in the sunny Okanagan depend upon the flow of cash from the river of money that tourists bring to beautiful B.C. But this year because of the wild fires all those loonies dried up and blew away in a puff of smoke.

Even though the OK valley was okay as far as not having any major fires burning in our area – the media grabbed onto the story like a puppy goes for a slipper – and they wouldn’t let it go.

Day in and day out, the news blared that the province was on fire, with film on the hour every hour. To the media a story is like a dog with a bone. Even though there isn’t any meat left on it, they’ll still fight, scratch and bite at it until it’s all gone.

A lot of our tour-trade is with Americans, who are just looking for a friendly place to take a vacation, where being a Yank won’t get you scoffed at or shot at just because of your elected president.

But again, the media just added fuel to the BC fires. By simply turning on the boob tube, you’d think the entire province, from the 49th parallel to the Alaskan pan-handle was ablaze, an inferno or as one broadcaster said: “It’s hell on earth!”

All this chatter lead to Twitter and soon Instagram and Facebook joined in and spread the word faster than (ironically) a grass fire. It wasn’t long before ABC, NBC, CNN and CBC were highlighting BC. All of this electronic buzz, it made our province about as popular a vacation hot-spot as Syria.

I’ll admit that there were a lot of fires this year, but not everywhere was a blaze. Vancouver Island, the lower mainland and the Okanagan were open for business, but that didn’t make news.

While the world stayed away in droves, businesses here had to stay open. They’d already paid for their summer inventory, advertised and hired extra staff. I can only imagine it would be like holding an ice cream and watching it melt all over your hand.

As a writer I’d say that I have some sway on the way you may pay it forward today (try writing that four times fast).

This is what I’d like you to do: Facebook, Snapshot, Instagram and Twitter away the message: Va-Ka in your own back yard. Hashtag that my fellow Okanaganites.

We all know someone who works in the tourist industry or maybe even owns a small shop in valley. So instead of hopping on a jet plane, go to a downtown near you.

Have you ever seen a Sicamous sunset, ogled an Osoyoosite or loitered around Lumby?
Even better yet stay right here in Westbank. Pick a world famous Okanagan apple, drink in the view from a vineyard or maybe even a naughty night in a local hotel.

I have one more thing to suggest to my dear readers: if you see someone scoff at campfire bans or throw a cigarette out of a car window – rat the rat out!

At the same time you’re calling *5555 on your cell phone, to report the fire-bug, imagine all the pain and loss people endure because of someone’s ignorance.

Back in days of yore, before the invasion, we Natives would use fire to control fire, burning as the snows melted – simple.


Please feel free to Email Bernie Bates at:


If your home happens to be in the desert then may I suggest that you buy sunglasses, deodorant and a t-shirt that reads: Albino, free-zone.

Some people go on and on about this thing or that thing. There’s and old cowboy saying: “Some folks would bitch if they were hung with a used rope.”

I love this time of year, life slows down and it’s a good excuse to rest under the shade of an old tree. The shores come alive with children playing and couples holding hands as they stroll along the water’s edge. The smell of barbeques waft through the evening air as you sit on your porch with a tall cold one.

Damned, life is good in the Okanagan valley.

Summer is also a time for families to rekindle their ties. People pack up their cares and woes and drive so that they may share them with their relatives – sometimes for weeks on end.

Some kids visit their adoring grandparents while at the same time other grandparents are heading for the hills to avoid becoming summertime babysitters.

As the temperature rises everything begins to change, from the foods we eat to the clothes on our backs; or should I say the lack there of?

One old boy, Jack, who is 92 years old, once said to me: “The young girls begin to shed.”

I’m sure there is an old uptight, stuck up moral cop who might say that Jack is just a dirty old man. As for myself, Jack’s words give me hope, just knowing that when I reach the autumn of my life I’ll still appreciate beauty and forever be a boy of summer.

People from all across this great land have landed here for one reason or another, but the main reason is because of our cozy climate.

Back east it’s not only as hot as hell it’s as humid as a hairy armpit. The flat-landers (prairies) come here for the mountain’s majesty and stay for the mild winters. If you still have any doubts that you’re not in the land of milk and sunny – just ask any one of our many, many Albertans.

Every year my wife and I take a holiday, and for the last few years we’ve stayed close to home, and so did our money. Have you ever been to Nakusp? How about the Cariboo or the Kootenay area? Even closer to home you’ll find gold in Hedley, wine in Oliver and history at the O’Keefe ranch near Vernon.

So instead of sitting on your wallet and complaining about the weather – get off your assets and discover your own backyard. After all, a million Albertans can’t all be wrong.


Bernie Bates is a writer and an artist Email him at:

Powering Reconciliation – Indigenous Participation in Clean Energy

In a first of its kind report, Lumos Clean Energy Advisors released the results of a national survey of clean energy projects with Indigenous participation. The findings are impressive to say the least.

Indigenous participation in Canada’s burgeoning clean energy economy has risen rapidly over the past two decades, especially the last 10 years. There was a dramatic rise from 26 projects in operation in 2008 to the 152 projects that generate energy today.

These are only medium-large projects (over 1MW in size). There are another 1,200 small projects in Indigenous communities across Canada.

These projects represent nearly one fifth of Canada’s overall electricity production infrastructure. Enough to power 7.5-9.5 million homes.

Communities were involved in these projects as owners or partners, or had Impact Benefit Agreements, lease agreements, revenue sharing agreements, etc., with project developers.

Participation in these projects has had significant employment, economic, and social benefits for communities involved.

Building these projects created an estimated 15,300 person-years of jobs for Indigenous community members. This translates into roughly $842 million in employment income. These jobs come in the form of direct employment such as: construction workers (ex. heavy equipment operators, iron workers, electricians), environmental monitors, site security, etc. They also include spin-off opportunities like catering, camp services, and more.

While some of the jobs are limited to the construction the projects, the experience gained by community members has allowed them to find employment on other projects in their regions. Beyond this, nearly 300 individuals, now have long term careers operating and maintaining the projects.

The investments and agreements made by communities are now yielding huge returns. After paying off any debt requirements, these projects are earning a total net returns of about $167 million per year. Over the next fifteen years it’s expected that total profits will be around $2.5 billion.

This revenue and the employment from the projects, has helped create more self-reliance in communities. They create own-source funds to use towards education, healthcare, elder facilities, and other pressing needs. As Chief Jim Leonard of Rainy River First Nation says: “Solar is powering a more socially and economically stable future for our people.” Rainy River wholly owns a 25 MW solar farm just outside of Thunder Bay.

These outcomes only start to hint at the importance of the findings of the survey: That these projects represent powerful, tangible steps on the path to reconciliation.

Project partnerships often represent a recognition and respect for Indigenous rights and territory. With the active involvement of Indigenous communities, traditional knowledge and values become engrained in the project’s design and implementation – helping to minimize environmental impact. And respect-oriented relationships can strengthen the economic basis for healthy communities, long term prosperity, and sustainable livelihoods.

But this good news story is not over yet. Over the next 30 years, Canada will be going through a significant transition as it moves towards a low-carbon future. This will open vast new opportunities for new renewable energy projects but also other areas of the clean energy economy like electric vehicles, smart grids, and more.

It’s important that we build on the success we’ve seen here with these 152 projects. Collaboration and shared learning is needed to ensure the clean energy future also continues down the path of reconciliation. Indigenous rights, values, and leadership must continue to be integrated as the sector expands.

To help make this happen, we’re working with a range of partners on initiatives such as the 20/20 Catalysts Program and the Indigenous Clean Energy Network, to foster Indigenous leadership and promote collaboration between all those involved in the sector.
Read the full report on:

Remembering Thomas Prince: Canada’s Forgotten Aboriginal War Hero

The ten war medals of Canada’s most decorated aboriginal war hero Sergeant Thomas George Prince, a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, returned to the Prince family after being lost for over 30 years. Thomas Prince

“I was out in Halifax for the AFN meeting when I got the call that the medals were coming up for auction. We re-organized our committee and began to write letters for a fundraising media campaign and I did some radio talk shows,” said Jim Bear, nephew to the late Thomas Prince.

Money and pledges poured in from across the country. Bear, a prominent member of the Winnipeg aboriginal community has been after the medals since 1995, when the medals first re-surfaced after eighteen years after the death of Tommy Prince in November 1977. The medals were auctioned off by a Winnipeg coin dealer for $17,500 in 1997.

The ten medals were bought by the Prince family at a London, Ontario auction for $75,000 on the third bid.
The medals from WWII includes the King George Military Medal and the US Silver Star, which was presented to Prince at Buckingham Palace by King George VI, for his five years of outstanding service as a member of the First Special Service Force, a combined Canadian-US elite airborne unit that came to be known as the famed “Devil’s Brigade”.

The wartime experience of Sergeant Tommy Prince is the stuff of legend. He was a quiet ordinary man who had greatness thrust upon him by the force of one of the greatest conflicts in the history of Western civilization. It’s as if he was born and bred for one great task and then cast aside by the very society he fought for. He was a true son of his people and a great warrior.

His life story is told in the publication Manitobans in Profile: Thomas George Prince, 1981, Penguin Publishers Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s a fascinating piece of Canadianna.

The early years

Thomas George Prince was the great-great-grandson of the famous Chief Peguis, the Salteaux chief who led his people to the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg in the late 1790’s from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. One of eleven children, Tommy Prince was born in a canvas tent on a cold October day in 1915.

When he was five, the family moved to the Brokenhead reserve just outside of Scanterbury, some 80 kilometers north of Winnipeg, where he learned his father’s skills as a hunter and trapper.

As a teenager, Prince joined the Army cadets and perfected his skill with a rifle until he could put five bullets through a target the size of a playing card at 100 metres.

World War II

When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Prince volunteered at 24, and was accepted as a sapper in the Royal Canadian Engineers, which he served with for two years. In June 1940, he volunteered for paratrooper service. The training was hard and very few successfully completed. Prince was one of nine out of a hundred to win his wings from the parachute school at Ringway, near Manchester, England.

It wasn’t his ability to “jump” that made him a good paratrooper. Prince had a natural instinct for “ground”. He would land, creep forward on his belly with the speed and agility of a snake and take advantage of small depressions in an otherwise flat field to conceal himself from view. He was a crack shot with a rifle and crafty as a wolf in the field.

Prince was promoted to Lance Corporal as a result of his impressive skills and in September, 1942, flew back to Canada to train with the first Canadian Parachute Battalion and was soon promoted to sergeant. It merged with the United States Special Force, the airborne unit known as the “Green Berets.”

The First Special Service Force was an experiment in unity that was composed of 1600 of the “toughest men to be found in Canada and the United States.”

All the men were qualifies paratroopers and received training in unarmed combat, demolition, mountain fighting and as ski troops. They were described as “the best small force of fighting men ever assembled on the North American continent” and the “best god-damned fighters in the world and a terror to their enemies.”.

This combined elite force was first called into action in January 1943, when the Japanese occupied Kiska, an island in the Aleutian chain of islands near Alaska in the Pacific but the Japanese had already withdrew.

They went to the Mediterranean, followed by the Sicily landing. By a daring maneuver, it captured strategic Monte la Difensa, an extremely difficult piece of ground. Fighting side by side with the US Fifth Army, it maintained an aggressive offensive throughout the Italian campaign. The liberation of Rome was the culmination of its daring exploits.

A natural hunter, Prince’s fieldcraft was unequalled and in recognition of unique abilities, he was made reconnaissance sergeant. At night, Prince would crawl toward the enemy lines, mostly alone, to listen to the Germans, estimate their numbers and report back to his battalion commander.

Before every attack, he was sent out to reconnoiter enemy positions and landscape formations that could provide cover for an attacking platoon.

Prince’s most daring exploit was on the Anzio beach-head where the Special Service Force had fought for ninety days without relief on the frontlines.

Voluntary assignment

On February 8, 1944, Sergeant Prince went out alone on a voluntary assignment to run a radio wire 1500 metres into enemy territory to an abandoned farmhouse where he established an observation post.

From his post, Prince could observe enemy troop movements unseen by the Allied artillery and radio back their exact locations. Armed with this knowledge, the Allied artillery could lay down an accurate barrage and successfully destroyed four enemy positions.

When the communications were abruptly cut off, Prince knew what had happened. Shellfire from the opposing armies had cut the line.

Without concern for his own safety, Prince stripped off his uniform and dressed in farmer’s clothes left behind. At that time, many Italian farmers persisted in remaining on their farms despite the war that raged around them.

Acting as an angry farmer, Prince went out into the field shaking his fists and shouting at the German-Italian line and then to the Allied line. Taking a hoe out into the field, he pretended to work the field in plain view of the enemy line while he secretly followed the radio line to where the break had occurred.

Pretending to tie his shoe, he secretly sliced the line together and continued to work the field before retiring back to the farmhouse where he continued to relay enemy positions. With the positions of the enemy revealed to the Allied artillery, the enemy soon withdrew.

Only then did Prince return to his CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Gilday who recommended Prince for the Military Medal for “exceptional bravery in the field.”

Devil’s Brigade

It was at Anzio that the Force earned the name “Devil’s Brigade.” In the diary of a dead German soldier was a passage that read, “The black devils are all around us every time we come into the line.”

The passage was a reference to the Force’s tactic of smearing their faces with black and sneaking past Axis lines under the cover of darkness and slitting the throats of enemy soldiers.

Following the capture of Italy, the Devil’s Brigade took part in the seizure of coastal islands during the invasion of southern France. The Force gained the mainland and proceeded up the Riviara until they reached mountainous defenses held by German forces.

To break the impasse, the Force would have to launch a surprise attack, destroy the enemy defensive line and quickly capture the reserve battalions before they could be brought up as reinforcements.

To accomplish this daring move, the Force needed to know the exact location of enemy reserves and details of roads and bridges.

With only a private, Prince breached the enemy line and located the reserve encampment.. On the way back to report, Prince ands the private came upon a battle between some Germans and a squad of French partisans. From a rear position, the pair began to pick off the Germans until they withdrew as a result of high casualties.

When Prince made contact with the French leader, the Frenchman asked “Where is the rest of your company?” Pointing to the private, Prince said “Here.”

“Mon Dieu. I thought there were at least fifty of you!” said the astonished Frenchman.

The French commander recommended Prince for the Croix de Guerre, but the courier was killed en route and the message never reached the French Commander-in-Chief, Charles de Gaulle.

Returning to his own line, Prince was again sent out to the action on the frontline, despite his fatigue. Then, the enemy line was breached and an attack was launched on the German encampment reported by Prince.

When the battle had ended, Prince had been without food or sleep for 72 hours, fought two battles and covered over 70 km on foot. For his role, the Americans awarded Prince the Silver Star.

The Prince meets the King

One of his proudest moments and most cherished memories was when King George VI pinned on the Military Medal and the Silver Star, on behalf of President Roosevelt, and chatted with Prince about his wartime experiences.

Sergeant Thomas Prince was one of 59 Canadians awarded the US Silver Star and one of three who were awarded the King George Military Medal.

In December 1944, the Devil’s Brigade was disbanded. The war in Europe ended while Prince was in England. He returned to Canada and was honourably discharged on June 15, 1945.

Prince returned to civilian life on the Brokenhead reserve and found that few things had changed. He worked in a pulpwood camps and was a heavy drinker on weekends. In 1946, at a dance a woman attacked him with a broken beer bottle and badly cut his right cheek requiring 64 stitches.

It was a major turning point for Prince. He resolved to leave the reserve and get a job in Winnipeg.

With the assistance from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, he established his own cleaning service with a half-ton panel truck and cleaning supplies and, for a time, prospered.

At the time, the Manitoba Indian Association had been seeking an influential spokesperson and on December 1, 1946 elected him as chairman. The federal government had recently announced the formation of a Special Parlimentary Committee to revise the Indian Act.

Building a better community

The Manitoba Indian Association were concerned about the slow encroachment on their hunting and trapping rights. They wanted better housing, roads and educational opportunities for their children and financial assistance to start up businesses.

Prince arranged for friends to run his small, but profitable business. As chairman, he consulted extensively with aboriginal communities across Manitoba. He developed clear, well-documented arguments that made clear the Manitoba Association’s concerns in a brief presented to the committee on June 5, 1947.

Prince was overcome and frustrated by the legalese government officials threw out to counter his arguments. The committee hearings dragged on for two months, Prince became increasingly frustrated.

He tried to persuade other aboriginal representatives to travel to London and appeal to King George VI whom he had met.

While some changes were made the Indian Act, life for Canada’s Indians remained unchanged. Prince came to realize from the committee hearings that Indian people lacked prestige in the eyes of post-war Canadian society, who generally looked down on Indian people. To change this widely-held view became somewhat of an obsession with him.

He returned to Winnipeg with the intention of building up his business but instead found that his “friends” had wrecked his truck in an accident and was sold for scrap metal. With no recourse, Prince returned to the lumber camps a and worked at a local concrete factory in the summers.

Then, at the age of 34, one week after the Canadian government announced its involvement in Korea, Tommy Prince again volunteered.

As part of its UN commitments, the Canadian government formed and trained the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI), which Prince joined as a seasoned veteran. He and other veterans were re-instated at their former ranks, in charge of training fresh recruits.

Tom Prince exalted in the military tradition of the 2PPCLI, where he was the hard-boiled sergeant whose legendary exploits were held in awe by the fresh recruits.

Following basic training at Wainwright, Alberta, the 2PPCLI sailed across the Pacific on December 7, 1950 and was the first Canadian unit to land and to become part of 27th Commonwealth Brigade in Korea.

Prince’s service on the Korean frontline was intense, but brief. Second in command of a rifle platoon, the 2PPCLI were part of a commonwealth effort to push back the North Korean forces from hill and mountain strongholds.

In February, 1951, Prince led a “snatch patrol” of eight men into enemy territory and captured two guarded machine gun posts as part of a demoralization effort. The tactic was repeated successfully many times with Prince in charge. But his commanding officers felt that Prince took too many chances with the men’s lives and eventually assigned him fewer patrols.

Prince was with the 2PPCLI when, together with the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment, were awarded the United States’ Presidential Unit Citation for distinguished service in the Kapyong valley on April 24 and 25, during one of the toughest actions of the war.

The Patricias were to hold a defensive position on Hill 677 so that a South Korean division could withdraw during an attack by Chinese and North Korean forces. Although at one point the battalion was surrounded and re-supply of ammunition and emergency rations could only be accomplished by air, the Patricias held their ground. The enemy withdrew. Ten 2PPCLI men were killed and twenty-three were wounded during the battle.
His knees were subject to painful swelling as a result of the constant climbing of the steep Korean country side. Following a medical examination in May 1951, he was hospitalized and then assigned administrative duties. In August, he returned to Canada.

Prince remained in active service as an administrative sergeant at Camp Bordon in Ontario.

His knees responded to the added rest and in March 1952, Prince volunteered for a second tour of duty and sailed for Korea in October with the 3rd Battalion PPCLI.

In November, the training of the 3PPCLI was interrupted by fighting on “the Hook”, a key position of the Sami-chon River that overlooked much of the rear areas of the UN forces.

When a Chinese battalion gained a foothold on the forward positions of another UN unit on November 18, the 3rd PPCLI was ordered in to help defend the sector. By dawn, of the following day, with the assistance of the 3rd Patricias, the UN unit recaptured the post. Five Patricias were killed and nine wounded, one of whom was Sergeant Prince.

He recovered from his injury, but began to have continual difficulties with his arthritic knees He spent several weeks in the hospital between January and April. In July, 1953, the Korea Armistice was signed and Prince returned to Canada. He remained in the army until September 1954, when he was discharged with a small pension because of his bad knees.

Unskilled and unable to fit into the post-war boom, Prince retained only menial jobs and was the subject of scorn from white workers ignorant of his wartime gallantry. His skills as a hunter that made him one of the best soldiers had no value in the urban centre of Winnipeg in the early 1950’s.

In many ways, Tom’s problems were typical of a certain type of returning soldier. These men had been unskilled workers prior to joining the army. From being in low socio-economic position, they suddenly became respected and honoured men who wore a uniform and commanded attention. Men like Prince were promoted to the rank of non-commissioned officers and had authority over others. When they were demobilized from the army, all the power and respect which their uniforms generated suddenly disappeared.

Family life

Nevertheless, Prince met and married Verna Sinclair shortly after and had five children together. By the early 1960’s, nothing had really changed for Indian people. Prince still suffered from discrimination at the jobs he could get. Often he simply quit.

His arthritic knees got worse so he drank more. All of this led to money problems and he and Verna separated in 1964. His five children had to be placed in foster homes by the Children’s Aid Society.

Prince tried to keep in touch with his children but they were often moved to other foster homes. Only his daughter, Beryl, who remained in one foster home for seven years could he keep in touch with and he visited monthly and never gave trying to keep in touch with his other children.

In the years before his death, Prince “was a truly forgotten man.” It was during these years that he pawned his prized medals.

Tommy Prince died at Winnipeg’s Deer Hospital on November 1977, at the age of 62. At his funeral, a delegation of Princess Patricias served as pallbearers and draped a Canadian flag over his coffin for the memorial service attended by active soldiers, veterans and representatives from France, Italy and United States, friends and family.

As the coffin was lowered onto the ground, Beryl and Beverly Prince, Tommy’s daughters, shed tears. When the officer in charge presented Beverly with the Canadian flag which had been draped over the coffin the flow of tears increased. Who were all these strangers, both military and civilian, honouring her father with apparent sadness and great respect? Where had they been these past years when her father, crippled from machine- gun wounds, was forced to do menial jobs to keep alive? Were the honour and respect given only after his death? Did these people really care or was this just a colourful pageant performed by white people for entertainment?

The ten medals of Sergeant Thomas Prince have been verified as the originals by the War Museum in Ottawa and will be held in trust for the Prince family at the Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg.

Siksika First Nation Evacuates Members from Sudden Wild Fires


Siksika First Nation – Wild Fires forced the evacuation in approximately 8 or more communities across Southern Alberta on Tuesday, October 17th. Those communities, included the Siksika First Nation, where no casualties were reported, but homes were destroyed by the wild fires. Extreme high winds was one of the main cause for the out of control fires.It was reported that one Elderly man had burns to his head and hands as he tried to fight the fire that nearly burned his home. Elders and young children had to be evacuated, some had no transportation.

Ruben (Buck) Breaker, Siksika First Nation councilor posted on his Facebook, that those with breathing problems and medical conditions, all these people, and countless others had a very traumatic day.

“Words cannot express the efforts of our Siksika fire fighters, as well as surrounding fire crews who helped out. These folks are the real heroes in yesterday’s devastation. Our fire fighters don’t get enough credit for the job they do. Prayers to our neighbors in and around the town of Gleichen, as they suffered damage as well.”

A True Water Protector

Though Autumn Peltier just turned 13-years-old, this young girl has already made quite the impact with her views on the environment, especially her passion for Canada’s water.

Autumn is from the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario and has been interested in the environment her entire life.

Her advocacy for protecting water began at 8-years-old when she entered a writing contest in her community.

Stephanie Peltier is Autumn’s mother, said Autumn entered and won a Odawa/Ojibwe language native speaking contest.

“She chose to write on ‘water’ and the essay was received well enough for her to win that contest,” said Stephanie Peltier, who works full time with Raising the Spirit Mental Wellness Program. “From there, she won another writing contest, which eventually caught the attention of organizers of the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden, where she was invited to attend.”

Peltier says she is very proud of what her daughter is accomplishing and supports her 100 percent.

“She is very deserving of it. This is her passion. She is always writing about water and the environment,” said Peltier. “Like the other day, I asked her, ‘Do you mind me asking what you’re writing about?’ and Autumn said, ‘I just had a thought and an idea, and I want it write it down.’”

As a parent, Peltier says the attention her daughter is receiving is overwhelming, but her priorities are being balanced when it comes to Autumn. Of course Peltier does tell Autumn there are people out there who do not share the same views as hers.

“She does not have access to social media, so she’s not fully aware of the impact she is creating,” said Peltier. “I want to steer her away from some of the negative comments that some people post on social media, and at the same time share with her the positive feedback.”

Autumn was eight years old when she gave her first speech about the universal right to clean drinking water. Since then, she has worked as an advocate for protecting natural water resources.

Her efforts include working toward the treaty signing against the expansion of oil sands to lobbying world leaders for water protection at the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden.

Autumn is now in the running for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She is the only Canadian up for the prestigious award where the top ten finalists will be chosen November 10th. Then, on December 4th, the Peace Prize will be awarded to the winner in Amsterdam,


When I had the opportunity to chat with Autumn I learned she is an intelligent and well-spoken young girl, and asked for her thoughts on being considered for the Peace Prize.

“If I do win the award, I will use that as a platform to further educate people about the current state of water and continue my advocacy on the issues of water and environment protection,” Autumn said. “When I think about how polluted the water is, I think of future generations. Will they even have clean drinking water? Water is alive and has a spirit, and like water is so sacred.”

Autumn also spoke about meeting Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

“I was only supposed to present him with the water bundle as a gift,” said Autumn. “But at that moment when I met him, I took the opportunity to tell him that I was very unhappy about the broken promises he has made towards our people and discouraged about the pipeline and how unsafe they are towards our environment.”

Autumn said that the Prime Minister told her, “I understand that and I will protect the water.”

Autumn said her 8th grade classmates at Waase Abin Pontiac School watch her sometimes on livestream and they support and share her views on protecting the water. Autumn said she is grateful for their support.

Among her many accomplishments, she recently addressed the Assembly of First Nations and told the First Nation leaders her sadness over the state of water, not only in Canada, but around the world.

Autumn is the middle sister of three. Her older sister is named Naomi and is 19. Her younger sister is Ciara, and she is 11.

Autumns’s favourite subjects are literature and mathematics, and she plans to attend law school and study political science.

“My dream one day is to be AFN National Chief and Minister of Environment,” said Autumn.

Editorial: Thoughts on Reconciliation

A Journalism student, also host of Avocado Days a one-hour show on Calgary’s 90.9 CJSW FM Radio

Reconciliation, in it’s most basic definition, is when two opposing parties agree to an amicable truce. This is best done when both parties are open to exploring different ways of doing things. With this openness to learn, a dialogue is created, and a kind of symbiosis occurs between the two sides. They are now forming thoughts, beliefs, plans, and ideas together. They are changing. They are growing. They are becoming one.

Genuine reconciliation is best achieved through the cooperation of all, and cannot be the sole responsibility of our government, administrative heads, or “Her Majesty the Queen”.

“Each person has an important role to play in reconciliation. Reconciliation begins with oneself and then extends into our families, relationships, workplaces, and eventually into our communities,” expresses Reconciliation Canada, a First Nation-led organization that strives to build a better relationship among all Canadians. Their “Walk For Reconciliation” in Vancouver on September 24th encourages people to be as one, transforming and renewing the archaic race barriers legislated inside all treaties made by the Canadian government. These race barriers include enforcing the First Nations to be on reservations, accept rations, to abide by the laws of “Her Majesty the Queen”, and to acknowledge “Christ the Lord” as the single spiritual divinity.

All of this is still here today. The government and law enforcement mandate the use of the Bible – pledging themselves to tell the truth under “God”. Laws are enforced upon us, and we now dwell in this society riddled with rules and regulations. The First Nation reserves received rations way back when. They got food, building supplies, a promise to be educated (which took on the form of residential schooling), money, ammunition, farming assistance, freedom to hunt, and the bare minimum of essentials to live in the society that was going to be built around them.

Living in that exact society today, we receive money from past promises – for secondary education, building houses, health, and reserve operations. We also receive money as a form of apology. The government feels that each hundred they give will eventually clean the blood off their hands. This money is put into the hands of Chief and Council, whose ancestors blood it was. They take it and use it for whatever, and it never feels right. They keep doing it, anyways, because what else are they going to do? Fight about it? That’s been done. Fighting just doesn’t work. For now, they know what once was is gone forever, and it is important to move on. So we accept the money, but there’s something always missing in every cent spent, and every cent spent sedates us more and more. Today, we’ve become comfortable in this new system of wealth, and it rules our every move, and every decision. We’re a colonized nation inside Canada.

This is not to say that there aren’t positive aspects of colonization. International trade is a thing of beauty, and to travel overseas in a matter of hours is, too. Playgrounds of knowledge (universities, colleges, technical institutes) exist now – we can learn anything! We’ve got the internet, bikes, coffee, pizza, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, films, a diverse array of music, books, clothing, and art. However, we cannot be blinded by these material indulgences and conveniences. There are terrible things that have happened so we can have these things. We’ve hurt Mother Earth, used Her, abused Her, and have decided that we can pave over Her. We’ve decided that we do not need Her to make decisions, and all we need is man-made things like oil refineries, and food, clothing, and supply industries. We’ve become a nation divided by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and wealth. We abide by land borders, “Her Majesty’s” law, and westernized governing systems.

Things are getting better, though. First Nation led movements such as Idle No More, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and pipeline protests have seen a surge in media presence. This has given First Nations more visibility, and therefore more of an opportunity to speak and be heard. Non First Nation people are listening, and are becoming less and less ignorant to what has happened in the past. They hear the truth, want to learn more, and to understand how to reconcile.

It is impossible to get back all that once was, but we can accept what has happened, and move forward together. That is why education is so important. It provides all with the opportunity to learn of the effects of colonization. The good, and the bad. It allows all to understand what previous First Nation leaders meant when they signed the treaties. It was an agreement to coexist peacefully, and move forward together in partnership. It was not meant to have “Her Majesty the Queen” dictate all.

Today, we have more of an ability then ever before to reach a symbiosis of thoughts, and form new ways of peaceful coexistence. How do we do this? I think it would be through acceptance. That’s important. Education is, too. Community building, and paying mind that community matters – that’s very important. Not thinking selfishly. Not thinking you’re above Mother Earth. Not thinking you’re above anyone. Not caring so much of material possessions. Being open to learn. Opening yourself to new ways of doing things. Teaching. Listening. Communicating.

By moving forward with these things in mind, I think we will get closer to genuine reconciliation and coming to that amicable truce. It won’t have to be written or told or legislated, no. Instead, it will feel natural, swirling in the air, filling us with a sweet, warm, calming connectedness. Until then, let’s keep trying to create that air.

NIC TV and Film Crew Training Ready for Registration


New courses offered at North Island College’s Campbell River and Port Alberni campuses aim to feed a booming Vancouver Island film industry hungry for off-screen talent.

NIC is accepting applications for the new television and film crew training program, which starts in October.

It launches as Vancouver Island and BC’s local film industries are roaring. An estimated $2 billion was spent on film production in 2015 alone, creating 25,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanoose residents have seen their communities buzzing with activity during filming of Hallmark Channel’s TV series Chesapeake Shores for the past two years.

Joan Miller, commissioner of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INfilm), said NIC’s decision to offer the courses comes at a time when the local film industry needs qualified crew to attract productions like Chesapeake Shores.

“We have so many productions that want to film here,” Miller said.

But a shortage of local, trained crew “has been a barrier for years” to bringing more film and television production to the north Island, due to the additional costs of bringing crew from elsewhere to local sets, Miller said.

The pilot program includes four separate training courses, including training to set up lighting and camera equipment, build and design sets and work as a production assistant.

The province announced almost $500,000 in funding to develop the courses in March. NIC also relied on help and expertise from INfilm, which provides liaison and location services to film, television, commercial and media companies filming in communities from Nanaimo northwards.

INfilm consulted with industry partners and urged the province to provide funding for the courses, pitching the idea as a way to invest in local tradespeople.

“This opens up a whole new avenue to find work,” Miller said.
“It’s also going to supply students with a few key certifications they need to get on set including the Motion Picture Industry Orientation ticket,” Miller added.

“NIC is very pleased to be working with our regional film commissioner and industry to develop customized, applied short term training aligned with film and television productions,” said Cheryl O’Connell, NIC’s dean of trades and technical programs. “The fact that these courses are being offered in response to industry demand is very significant to the region.”

There are still vacancies in the program, but prospective students are urged to get their applications in before Sept. 15.
Anyone interested in applying for a course in the training program can request an application package at