Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Over the weekend, while celebrating the winning of soccer medals, around ten Sechelt native youth were riding around in the back of a pick-up truck driven by their coach, Troy Mathers. The situation apparently got out of hand when the RCMP attempted to pull over the truck and it failed to do so. According to one news source the truck driven by Mr. Mathers drove up on the sidewalk in an attempt to evade the RCMP.

In the ensuing arrest of Mr. Mathers, the RCMP allege they were swarmed by other native band members and had to use pepper spray to subdue the alleged instigators. In the process a few young children and the baby son of Mr. Mayers were allegedly near the pepper-spraying.

It seems to me while Aboriginal citizens have the right to be angry at the RCMP, since historically relations between these two groups haven't been great, however, instead of this directed anger, hopefully calm and productive dialogue will prevail.

A few issues though need to be aired regarding this incident. Its illegal for people to be riding around, standing up in the back of a pick-up truck. And so it should, since motor vehicle regulations prohibit someone driving a vehicle dangerously which endangers others. The Sechelt native band needs to look at this factor regarding this incident.

To say that riding around in the back of a pick-up truck is a time honoured tradition as the Sechelt Nation is stating and that the RCMP had no right to interfere with their celebration is simply not acceptable. There cannot be one law for natives and another one for non-natives. The law must be applied equally in all cases where driving an automobile recklessly has the potential to harm others.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the BC Union of Indian Chiefs has waded into this issue, thereby politicalizing it. Chief Phillip has valid concerns over the alleged pepper-spraying, however what really seems lost in this issue is the behavior of Mr. Troy Mathers. As the adult soccer coach, he has a duty to ensure that no harm comes to those under his care.

It also seems to me that a proper celebration of native youth winning medals should be honoured in a responsible and legal manner. Enjoying a feast in the Longhouse and youth speaking of their accomplishments is I think a much better way of celebrating traditionally.

Riding around in the back of a pick-up truck, whooping it up seems really stupid.

And whoever thought of bringing women and children into an escalating and tense situation between the RCMP and a few members of the Sechelt Nation hasn't acted responsibly either.

Its time for the dysfunctional reserve system to get its act together. A good place to start instead of making outlandish demands, is to go into a talking circle and air their grievances and concerns in a respectful way which allows the healing process to begin. That's called real leadership.

Jamie Lee Hamilton