Port Simpson

The Tsimshian people live in this area of Northern BC.  While I’m here half are out halibut fishing, clam and cockle digging. They tell me first the food goes to the elders, next to all the families to can and store for the winter.  Selling whatever is left.  Out for days at a time. We drive through town, all siding on the houses, clean and crisp on the outside, floods, leaks, mold, overcrowding on the inside (I’m told).  I’m also told this community sticks together, looks after one another. The local shops sells me canned soup, chips and fruit-by-the-foot.  I gaze out at open ocean, up to snow-capped coastal mountains.  The road is gravel and pot-holed, our Explorer meanders along.  I can see families taking care of one another.  Neighbours, everyone knows everyones’ names.  Sitting inside the nursing residence, the wind whistles outside and rain patters on the roof.  I have satellite TV and a phone, in a community where only a small fraction have phones. I hear the Explorer vroom outside, the nurse on call going up to the nursing station to see a patient.  I look over to the window and glimpse the counter, with all our groceries there.  We flew in with them on a bumpy ride on a sea plane from Prince Rupert.  Rupert, as everyone calls it.  Rupert where there are doctors.  The nurses here are industrious but with 1500 people the place deserves a physician.  The doc I’m with tells me that UBC has 4 spots reserved each year for aboriginal Canadians.  Hm. I find myself in the nursing station all day, giving H1N1 vaccine.  Line ups for hours the first day, then no one. The lady at the reception calls out on the radio, asking everyone to come up.  The lady who cleans the nursing stations tells me that the rest of the community are still out fishing for Halibut.


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