Dancer Caine Kruger at large gathering at Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos today. Many people, native and non-native, young and old on hand to congratulate OIB chief Clarence Louie on his recent award of an “Order of Canada” medal.
Elders, tribe members from across the border, local town civic leaders, band leaders, federal and provincial representatives on hand to hear Louie speak and to bring greetings.
In a rambling 45 minute speech, Chief Louie thanked almost everyone from those serving the lunch to the campers in the RV park on the lake. Even this reporter – “Jack tell it like I am saying”
Canada is celebrating its 150 years in existence but the “Indians” have been here for more than 10 thousand years. “Canada was built on the backs of the Indian – with settlers discussing natives as the “Indian Problem”.
“You can call us aboriginals, indigenous, Indians,,,, whatever – but the fact is we are the people who were here before you.”
“We are lucky here in the Okanagan – we have gone back to our roots of being interested in doing business” says Louie but in other parts of Canada on many reserves unemployment is higher than it was for whites in the great depression. How proud should Canada be – with the conditions on many reserves – even the lack of a basic necessity like potable drinking water.
While thanking many non-native business partners Chief Louie says his people dream of a better day – more land returned to them and more fairness. Indians were not given rights he says – “our rights are recognized” by the highest courts in the land.
He issued a “heads up” to all levels of government. “We want unused crown land. We want what was given to us early on but stolen and cut off from our reserves.”