The late American writer, Kurt Vonnegut set the record straight in his great novel, Breakfast of Champions, where he wrote of the “discovery” of America by Columbus:
“1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.”
1862 is the date Victoria City would have us all remember with pride and joy, for that was the year “people” began living here. But actually, 1862 is the year pirates whose names grace our streets and byways yet executed a plan that rightly belongs atop the annals of world infamy; a plan that destroyed not only the lives of more than 100,000 individuals, but one meant to destroy entirely the peoples of the Pacific coast of what we now call British Columbia.
Genocide is a term loosely used today, but there is none better to describe the beginnings of European settlement at this place, and after 150 years, no better time to finally face the truth of it.
Tom Swanky is perhaps an unlikely historian. The retired businessman took on the research end of his son Shawn’s film project on the Tslihqot’in War, and the hanging by the colonials of their Chiefs in 1864. It was during the research for that project, Tom noted the great gulf separating the victors’ narrative from that of the vanquished, and discovered a paper trail leading to revelations he could hardly believe. Over ten years of research culminated in his book, ‘The True Story of Canada’s ‘War’ of Extermination on the Pacific’. Tom will be presenting some of his research at the Seventh Annual Anarchist Bookfair, beginning September 8th.
Tom Swanky in the first half.
And; it’s been said, “History doesn’t repeat, but it does echo.” and the echoes of the original colonial sins are ringing throughout the interior of British Columbia now. Though their suits may have changed in 150 years, the cut of the cloth has not; at this very moment, marauders cloaked in propriety plot to dispossess the natives, driving through their lands rightofways as paths to enrich themselves, and profit the distant government.
It’s not gold for Empire this time, but energy they crave; the new coin of the realm. The Enbridge pipeline project hopes to make of the province a conduit for Alberta’s bitumen mines, sluicing the toxic goo through pipes to the sea at Kitimat. Last week, the project sprung another leak, with VanCity announcing divestiture of all investments in the companies behind the scheme.
Zoe Blunt is a Victoria-area based environmental activist, organizer, and facilitator. She’s a citizen journalist whose work has been instrumental in the implementation of myriad campaigns locally, and throughout the province designed to protect the ecological integrity of B.C.’s wild lands, ensuring habitat viabililty for the animals in it, and cultural continuity for the people depending on it. Zoe was front and centre in efforts to convince VanCity to change their investment portfolio options, excluding Enbridge related vehicles.
Zoe Blunt and plugging the pipeline’s progress in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us in the second half to bring us up to speed with some of the good things going on in and around Victoria in the coming week. But first, Tom Swanky and the Great Darkening at the heart of our colonial beginnings.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/