Peaceful protest ‘Drumming out drugs’

“We just want the drugs out of our community,” says Saik’uz Elder Deborah Page. “There are so many people who are addicted to drugs, serious drugs like crystal meth, crack cocaine, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine’s, and it’s coming into our community. Some of our own people are selling it to our people, so we just want it to stop.

Welfare cheques

“We want a healthy community. We want our kids to grow up in a healthy community. So that’s why we are doing this. We’re doing it in front of the banks today because its welfare day for Saik’uz. People come and cash their welfare cheques at the bank and the drug dealers wait around here to collect. That’s why we’re doing it across from the banks.”

Hopeful, loving

“I’m glad that the people are here today speaking out. I’m hopeful that the drug dealers will hear our message. I’m hopeful that people who are addicted to drugs will seek help. It’s all about loving our people and loving our children. It’s a loving message. It’s not ‘Let’s get rid of the drug dealers and put them in jail.’ No, that just makes things worse. It’s trying to get the message out. Not rejecting that part of our community.

“We are shining a light on it and saying ‘Let’s do better. Let’s create a better future for our children’.

Drumming, culture

“Drumming helps because it is part of our culture,” explains Deborah Page. “We are trying to promote our culture. Drumming is also used at our ceremonies. It’s a strong message. We’ve always used drumming for dancing and ceremonies. This is very much a part of their culture. So we are here to remind the drug dealers of their culture and encourage them to take a different role, to find another way of making a living.

High unemployment

“I know people say there are not enough jobs, and that’s true. People are unemployed and living in poverty. But there has to be a better way to make a living than selling drugs to your own people and causing so much pain. I know where their hearts are but they get caught up.”

“A lot of our people are on assistance because we have a high rate of unemployment. A single person gets $435 per month to live on and most of that, if they are addicted, goes to the drug dealer. And usually [the drug dealers] sit and they wait for them outside the bank waiting for people to come out after they cash their cheque.

Elder leadership

The idea for this peaceful protest and promoting the First Nations culture happened at an Elders meeting. “We were working on a five year plan on how we are going to save our language, save our culture and how we are going to deal with drugs in our community, and this idea came up.

Very personal issue

It’s a very personal issue close to Deborah’s heart. “Young people are getting caught up in it. I lost my niece in Vancouver about five years ago. She was found dead in the downtown east side hotel. She was 19 years old. Less than a year later, her mom was found dead in a single occupancy hotel room. Before that, in 2008, my sister took my niece’s drugs and committed suicide. So it’s very much personal and I just want it to stop.

Hard time of year

“This is a very hard time of year for people. Christmas is hard because there’s the pressure to provide presents and people don’t have the money and yes its very much a hard time. It’s not a happy time for a lot of people.”

Elders group saying a prayer before they start drumming at the corner of Burrard Ave. and Stewart Str. on Dec 6, 2017. Photo Fiona Maureen
‘No ice in paradise,’ Meth is cultural death,’ ’ Culture not crack,’ ‘Drumming out drugs,’ ‘Follow the wise’. Protest signs put up at the main intersection in Vanderhoof in view of three banks send a strong message against drugs, promoting culture, love and hope. Photos Fiona Maureen
‘No ice in paradise,’ Meth is cultural death,’ ’ Culture not crack,’ ‘Drumming out drugs,’ ‘Follow the wise’. Protest signs put up at the main intersection in Vanderhoof in view of three banks send a strong message against drugs, promoting culture, love and hope. Photos Fiona Maureen
‘No ice in paradise,’ Meth is cultural death,’ ’ Culture not crack,’ ‘Drumming out drugs,’ ‘Follow the wise’. Protest signs put up at the main intersection in Vanderhoof in view of three banks send a strong message against drugs, promoting culture, love and hope. Photos Fiona Maureen
Saik’uz Elders’ peaceful protest ‘Drumming out drugs’ Photos Fiona Maureen
‘No ice in paradise,’ Meth is cultural death,’ ’ Culture not crack,’ ‘Drumming out drugs,’ ‘Follow the wise’. Protest signs put up at the main intersection in Vanderhoof in view of three banks send a strong message against drugs, promoting culture, love and hope. Photos Fiona Maureen
‘No ice in paradise,’ Meth is cultural death,’ ’ Culture not crack,’ ‘Drumming out drugs,’ ‘Follow the wise’. Protest signs put up at the main intersection in Vanderhoof in view of three banks send a strong message against drugs, promoting culture, love and hope. Photos Fiona Maureen

Just Posted

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Following Pacific Northwest LNG, there will be no future projects proposed near Flora Bank

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

BREAKING: Jury finds man accused of killing B.C. girl, 12, guilty

Twelve-year-old Monica Jack disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike along a highway in Merritt, B.C.

B.C. government extends coastal log export rules for six months

Premier John Horgan promises reform at loggers’ convention

B.C. pair accused of ‘honour-killing’ in India to be extradited within days

Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha are accused of conspiracy to commit murder

Most Read