Terrace man faced cold shoulder from First Nations growing up

"I was called in and she repeated the question: when was I going to start beating up her son."

Dear Sir,

I would like to respond to Lesley Winterhalt’s fantastic letter of October 21.

In 1953, when I was five-years-old, my family lived in Doreen, a railway station built for the Grand Trunk Pacific railway east of Terrace.

I was the only pre-schooler there except for a two-year-old girl who was off the grid.

My mother had enrolled me to keep the school open.

I was virtually alone until an aboriginal family moved in next door and they had a five-year-old son.

Wow! I had a playmate.

After a few weeks, my new friend asked me when I was going to start to beat him up.

Huh?

He told me his mother told him white boys always beat up native kids.

I assured him I would never beat him up: who would I have to hang out with if I did?

He ran inside to tell his mom.

I was called in and she repeated the question: when was I going to start beating up her son.

Never, I replied.

She said I was a funny white kid if I didn’t want to beat up her son. She couldn’t let him play outside their home in Hazelton without some white kid coming by and beating him up.

They were in Doreen for the month on a hunting trip.

She was worried about his school years.

I said my mom was a good teacher and a severe disciplinarian; no fighting where she taught.

His mom then tried to explain Residential Schools.

She said she would kill her son before allowing “them” to put him in one of those places.

Whoa! Truth is those schools were ordered by Ottawa to eliminate the Indian in the kids and put white society in them.

Magneto in the X-Men had the same goal for the mutants.

His dad said when I hit puberty I would turn hardcore racist and beat aboriginals up.

I shook my head and the parents said they would pray for me. Thanks!

The aboriginal kids were beat up, physically and sexually abused among other things in the schools.

The entire Canadian culture was racist. I found this out even in high school when I tried to befriend aboriginal students – they reacted with paranoia and shunned me.

Needless to say, I find aboriginals A-OK, friends and good neighbours.

Anything else is racist.

Brian Gregg

Terrace, B.C.