The hidden years in Canada 73, the real Canadians

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Saturday 27 June 07:17

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The real Canadians

We had to pass a lot of dirt roads but eventually we had delivered our load. The old Indian had been right, a lot of trees were being felled to make way for a residential area overlooking the lake. In Europe you plant or lay your parks around new neighborhoods in Canada you chop trees away to make room for some houses. On the way back we did not stop in Cree country but took some coffee in Ponoka. The Blackfoot girl was still there, ‘she is working long hours,’ I thought. ‘ So how was it in Cree county, ‘she asked? ‘Just normal, I would imagine,’ I replied, ‘we unloaded everything and need to deliver a few beams and then we can go back to our ‘stable’.’ ‘Will you come past tomorrow,’ she asked? ‘ ‘No,’ I said, ‘then it will be a different route.’

Rico studied an old newspaper lying on the bar and tore out an ad. He put it down in front of me. I looked at him questioningly. ‘They are asking for  apprentice plumbers at Moon Hash construction, 'Yes, 'I said,' but I’ve got work ?’ ‘Yes,’ said Rico 'but perhaps you might still want to read it, they are beginning within a month with a project so you still have some time to think about it. You can just call them and go for an interview. ‘ ‘For what it's worth,’ I said, ‘thanks,’ and folded it up and put it in my wallet next to the number of Bill Haybe. You’d never know. ‘Until the next run,’ I said to our pretty Indian maid and we paid and walked out the front door.

The truck took course again for the main road and we set sail. ‘This is my last week at work,’ Rico said. ‘After Thursday I’ll stop and I’ll be called Richard again.’ ‘I am curious to see who my co-driver will be,’ I said, ‘but when the bank holiday comes, then I really want to check out what Beverly found, you know about the Dead Horse Creek and stuff.’ ‘How do you want to tackle it,’ Rico asked? ‘We have to discuss that with the others,’ I said. ‘On Thursday we’ll get our money and then we’ll have a long weekend, maybe we can call Bev and Don and agree on POP’s and forge a plan. It will be fun to catch up again. ‘ ‘The next stop, I'll call Don or I leave a message at his mother,’ Rico said. ‘Fine,’ I said, elated, I felt excited, ‘pleasant prospect,’ I laughed.

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We drove on in silence, there was again a lot that had happened. I myself had a different view now of the fellow Canadians, when I realized how white society stamped down on a region, a country or a population. We were the fellow Canadians, I began to understand the hostility towards the whites. How helpless the first inhabitants must have felt, wave after wave of strangers had appeared. Without worrying about the first inhabitants they had settled in areas that had belonged to the first people, for as long as the tribe had a memory. They shot the animals  that roamed the land and fenced those in so that the old grounds became separated from what had always been theirs. A nasty truth if you thought about it.

They manipulated chieftains with whiskey and signed covenants which they broke immediately. It could hardly be otherwise then that we were seen as oppressors. Whole sections of forests were felled and large trucks transported the trees to sawmills. If water was in the area they were cut down and stripped of branches and towering trees floated over the river to a sawmill which you always find at the mouth of the lake. One giant tree could have heated many homes in a little white settlement, but that is not why they were cut down, they were cut down because it was 'business', the stately trees were ground to pulp and paper for newspapers printed far away in another region, with a one day value and the Indians who had always had enough, just gathering some wood for their fire and chasing a deer for their meals, had to go further away, because the lands undone from trees, had become barren plains, filled with stumps where no animal would stop anymore.

‘Hey,’ Rico shouted and pulled with all his might at the wheel, ‘what are you doing!’ I had gone pretty much straight into a curve and lost in thought about the residents, first people we now raced on the opposite shoulder, along a precipice which lured and beckoned us. Water broke out on my forehead and my heart was pounding in my throat. I let the gas pedal go and the truck was immediately severely delayed by the rising path. I let the monster find its own way but corrected it a bit, steering away from the abyss and towards the center line and then again to our own side of the road. I tried to find the gear that matched the speed but could not and soon we were standing still. I put the gear shift in 3-4 and the virtually empty combination started moving again.

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‘Were you asleep,’ Rico asked, ‘I do not want to die yet!’ ‘No,’ I said, still dazed, ‘I was the great soul and hovered over the fields, and I understood everything.’ ‘Never mind,’ I said, when I realized how that sounded, ‘we’ll have to stop here for some coffee and so we stopped a bit later in Olds and we walked to the bar next to the petrol pump. ‘I'm going to call Don,’ said Rico, 'you order my coffee okay? How long before we get home? ‘ ‘I estimate that it will take an hour to the yard,’ I replied. 'Okay,' said Rico, 'I know enough. ‘ The pretty, white bar girl smiled at me. ‘What may it be cowboy?’ ‘Do me two coffees and something to eat.’ 'Moose burger, ‘ she smiled with her pearly white teeth. 'Moose burger, ‘I asked? ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘or moose soup, or moose steak with fries.’ ‘Is there anything else than moose steak or burger or soup,’ I asked? ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘there's also moose and eggs and tomato.’ ‘Do me two of them please,’ I said. ‘Is the moose fresh,’ I joked? ‘Two days old,’ the girl said gravely, ‘shot behind the parking place.’ ‘Never mind,’ I said, and I realized something about shooting a moose to bake some burgers.. Rico came back and said, ‘we’ll meet in about two hours, at POPs.’

‘Great,’ I said, and longed for the milkshake that Pop would make and I could almost taste it.

San Daniel 2015

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