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Wilderness Adventures - Nov., Week 1/2007

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like 'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


08/11/2007 4:30 PM

Snowing....Again

We're in the path of yet another weather system making its way in from the Pacific and this one looks to be a doozy. Packing a lot of moisture with a direct hit on the Central Coast, we were also supposed to get some wind, but no breeze has arrived yet. However, it did start snowing this afternoon and hasn't stopped in the last couple of hours. The snow is that really fine, dry stuff that takes forever to build up, but it is accumulating.
Unlike the last few days where we've seen at least some sun, today started out with heavy, grey overcast and certainly hasn't gotten any better. Supposedly, the weather folks are calling for freezing rain between here and Williams Lake through the night and in the early morning hours, which prompted a quick change in more than one person's travel plans.
Our temperatures have probably been warmer in the last couple of days than we've seen in a at least a week, where it never did get below freezing night before last and made it up to 7C or about 45 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. We went for a walk in the woods and it was actually quite pleasant when the sun came out. The warm temperatures the last couple of days might have taken the snow down a bit but it certainly didn't disappear and I think it's there for the winter for sure in the woods. It might be in our yard too. When the snow gets that warm and then freezes hard like it did last night, it takes a lot to melt it and forms an ice base on the ground. Which may also mean we won't get a lot of frost in the ground this year with the snow insulating it. Suits me. Shortens up Break Up on the other end of the winter season.
I was over at Eagle's Nest Resort today for lunch. For any of you that are coming through this winter and finding us a little short of eating establishments, the dining room at Eagle's Nest is fabulous. The lunch menu is very simple but the food is excellent and the surroundings very elegant. You can check it out at Dining
or on the navigation menu to your left. We watched the snowstorm come in from the dining room windows and I was shocked to note that Anahim Lake already has ice on much of its surface. We're not even close at Nimpo. A little ice along the shoreline in a protected bay, but that's about it. Although we were talking yesterday about the dates the ice went on last year. It was exceptionally early because we had temperatures that dropped as low as 43 degrees below zero Fahrenheit toward the end of November 2006.
That got me to thinking that perhaps those temperatures were responsible for the small beetle invasion this year. For all the massive numbers that landed on local trees the year before, there weren't all that many exit holes this year at all. That would lead me to believe that what the scientists say is true. If there is a really fast, hard, cold spell early in the season, the beetle doesn't have an opportunity to develop the 'anti freeze' in their system that helps to protect them from cold. Many of the really big trees were killed the year before so beetles were forced to go into smaller trees with thinner bark last fall. They would no sooner have gotten settled when that cold spell hit. All conjecture of course, and we can only hope, but it would be nice to think their populations may have been knocked back a bit.
As you can see, this blog is back on the subject of weather again....:-) I thought I would back it off and give the subject of the RCMP a rest for awhile. I have a lot of work to do so I'm not going to be uploading anything for the next couple of days, which is also why I'm not continuing the RCMP articles. Not that I don't have lots more to say, but there's nothing worse than getting started on a series and then having to stop in the middle and leave readers hanging for a period of time. Besides, looking at the length of the articles below, I've got about a book there and it'll take awhile for folks to wade through it all. So for anyone that's just picked up here, if you want to read the RCMP articles below, start at the bottom blog and work your way to the top.
For those of you that have already patiently waded through the whole works, have a great weekend and don't forget our Soldiers and our Veterans!

07/11/2007 2:57 PM

The New Face Of The RCMP

I'm sorry for the delay in getting this next article posted. We had to make a run into Williams Lake yesterday and that blew most of the day, as usual.
I believe that it was in 1970 that the first RCMP Detachment office was opened in Anahim Lake by Corporal L.H. (The name I choose to call him by because I don't know if he was a Corporal then or not.) My Father worked in the Williams Lake office and spoke highly of him as did many of the other Officers that I knew in the early 70's.
I don't expect it was easy going for Corporal H. when he first hit this country because he represented authority and the law, and he may well have been treated initially with some suspicion. But it's not like this part of the Chilcotin was completely lawless and the entire community relied on each other for survival. Corporal H. didn't come in with jackboots on expecting to change the world but what he did do was set an admirable example. Because he was the first here representing authority, and because he blended so well into the community, (community meaning not just Anahim Lake but the entire 200 mile stretch of road between here and Williams Lake) he left a remarkable impression on people. I don't know of a single old timer here that doesn't speak very highly of him. Corporal H. also left a road map of sorts for those RCMP Members that followed him. The Anahim Lake Office was a one man Detachment and considered an isolated posting. One man coming in here with help 200 miles away over a rough road that generally took eight hours to negotiate, wasn't going to be a particularly effective policeman if he pissed everyone off right off the bat. Corporal H. got to know everyone in the Chilcotin, worked and played closely with them, commiserated with them, and came down on them when he had to. You can do that when you have people's respect, you know. Something our present constabulary seems to have forgotten. Corporal H. had everyone's respect, whether they liked him or not, and I think I can safely say that includes the Native population. You have to remember that even in the early 70's, the majority of Natives in the area had never even been to a larger town such as a Williams Lake. While accustomed to local ranchers, trappers and lodge owners, I suspect they would have been more than suspicious of the new cop in town. Don't forget that many of the Native children had been taken away from their parents by then and forced to go to the Indian school at Mission under the watchful eyes of the Catholic nuns and priests. No matter what spin you put on it, that had to have been a frightening experience for all tribes across Canada, especially in the face of the abuse allegations that have since come up. The Mission School having been one of the worst, as we now know.
Having set that great example, Corporal H. just made life a whole lot easier for Members following him over the years and while it had become a two man detachment by the time I moved out here in '88, our community worked well with the RCMP and I think did a lot of the policing for them. Around about the time I came out Corporal D.B. was in charge here and was probably one of the all time best cops I have ever seen anywhere. He became an active member of the community, organizing dry dances for the teens, a hockey team and other activities to keep the kids off the street, raised money for equipment and was a regular going concern. You couldn't haven't said a single bad thing about Corporal B. without raising the ire of whites and Natives alike in this community. He was much loved and much respected by all and was an excellent example of how well community policing works. I don't even know how much actual investigative work he had to do. Apparently, if something went missing or someone committed a Break and Enter, Corporal B. was tipped off immediately as to who did it. Talk about the pinnacle in policing!
I know that he asked to stay longer when they were going to ship him out, and I think they did give him another year, but then he had to go. It's too bad really, because things have been going down hill steadily since. I'm sure Commanders since would use the excuse that it's pretty hard to live up to such an unusual level of excellence, but I wonder why not? All it takes is a little effort to get along with the community. You respect the community and the community will respect you.
My first exposure to the 'New Breed' was after I moved back out here in 2002 and worked over at a restaurant the next summer. I was working with two of the new Member's wives and upon learning that they were, my first thought was, "Good God, don't they vet Members before transferring them out here anymore?" Apparently not.
An RCMP Member's wife is expected to maintain a certain level of decorum (having been one, I know a few things about it) and is considered a representative of the RCMP. That's just the way it is. You get a background check done on you, make sure you don't have a record, haven't been in jail, etc. (I'm assuming they still do that, although nowadays? Who knows?) Particular care needs to be taken in a small community where locals know you're the wife (or husband) of a Member.
I have to admit to some wonder at the ability of these two wives (actually, one wasn't married yet,) to maintain the hair, perfect nails, expensive shoes, and clothes straight off the runway. They so obviously did not belong in the Chilcotin, it was laughable. However, they were here. The one actually turned out to be a really nice girl, and though maybe not suited to help her husband in the community, I think had it been a one man posting, she would have tried. Her buddy, though, was definitely not small community material. She was arrogant, hated the area, hated the people, and made her feelings pretty clear. Since the number of RCMP Members had by then been upped to four, I guess she didn't have to make an effort because they had their own little enclave. I met the guys and they were actually okay. Rookies and very young, but okay. However, they made little effort to get to know people in the community and stuck mostly to themselves. According to the one Member's wife, she had no desire to get to know the great 'unwashed' masses. I know we were all considered too hick and backcountry for her and perhaps for the husbands as well. Which is actually kind of funny considering the caliber of people that live in this area, including not a few ex-CEO's, and who live here because they want to. There's more money out here than that little girl can ever hope to see in her lifetime regardless of what 'class' level she may think she fits into.
Either way, I think that was only a small indicator of the attitude that was accompanying RCMP Members being transferred out here. I know that we all attended meetings and howled when we found out that the numbers were going to be going up to six, and our property taxes would be going up as well to help pay for them. We've even heard that we may be getting more Members stationed out here and I can't even comprehend the need for six.
In fact, to get back to that community meeting as mentioned below, I believe that's the problem with the over policing here. There are just too many cops and not enough to keep them busy. So what might be perceived as harassment is simply too many RCMP Members trying to justify their existence in an area with a tiny population.
Before, Anahim Lake was a one, and then two man posting, with the posting only lasting a year. The Members sent out here had some experience and the willingness to live in an isolated post. Once they left, they could pretty much choose their next posting. This wasn't an area that you sent problem cops, but rather those with an exemplary record.
Now what do we get? Well, the last Commander was several months late getting here because as we understood it, he was under investigation. Rumor had it that it was for allowing the mistreatment of Natives arrested and brought in on his Watch. I don't know if that was the case but if it was true, then you have to wonder who's idea it was to send him to take command of a Detachment where half the population is Native. His year came up and he's gone, but now, the Detachment is so large that we have a Sergeant who admits he only has time to do paperwork, and we have a rookie that is being trained. Excuse me? Why the hell is our small population paying for a rookie, if he's not considered to be on the roster?
I think that the main problem is that the posting is still of short duration. If we're now being treated as a large town, then why isn't the posting duration for at least five years as it is elsewhere? Because as I see it, if you're stuck some place for several years, then you better make an effort to get to know the locals and work with them. And I think that the RCMP Members probably would make that effort to be a part of a community they had to live in for awhile. But right now, they don't have to. There's enough Members and their wives for them to have their own little group. They don't have to interact with locals, and so they make little effort to do so. As was brought up at the meeting, they sit behind their high chain link fences and when they do come out, they're perceived as a pack of pit bulls out to get the population. I didn't say that, by the way. A community member did.
So if you're perceived in that manner, you have an image problem. It doesn't help that the RCMP has a serious image problem throughout Canada right now. But as Andy brought up to the Sergeant at that meeting, "You can't change how people see the RCMP in the rest of the province, but you have the power to change how people in our community see you. You have, by your actions, the ability to change your image here and the level of respect for your Members." Apparently that fell on deaf ears as well. As I understand it, there were two roadblocks in the three day period following the meeting. There's no gesture of good faith there. That's almost a deliberate slap in the face. When people walk away from a meeting feeling that their words have had no effect at all, and there was no gesture of good faith, where do you suppose things are going to go from there?
Well, here's an example.
A couple of years ago we went snowmobiling up in the Rainbow Mountains with friends. A female Member accompanied us because as her Watch Commander instructed her, lots of people in this country snowmobile, accidents happen, and it would be good if all of the Members were familiar with the snowmobiling areas. She had never snowmobiled before but you certainly wouldn't know it. Quick to learn with good reflexes and excellent balance, she was great company and a joy to spend the day with. I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know her and because we rode identical machines, we raced each other down the mountain at the end of the day. We only spoke in passing after that and I never got to join in any other activities with her, but that experience gave me an opportunity to learn about her and both Andy and I came away from the day with a great deal of respect for her. Thereafter, if she had needed help of any sort, or if she had wanted information about a lawbreaker that I knew, I probably would not have hesitated to pass on that information. Nor would I hesitate with many other RCMP Members I have gotten to know and respect over the years and that I know respect me. But if you were to ask me to do a favor for any Member presently stationed at the Anahim Lake Detachment, even though I consider myself a good citizen and a law abiding one, it is highly unlikely that I would give them the right time of day. I, who have always looked up to, and respected, authority. If I now feel this way, how do you suppose people who were never particular one way or another feel? Can the police expect the cooperation of a populace, and I'm including all of Canada, that no longer feels respected by the police, and so no longer respects the police. Because I feel strongly that this is what it's all about. Respect.
Too many videos taken on a cell phone showing police beating up a guy. Not subdueing.... beating. Police going way overboard at a concert. An officer shooting a kid in the back of the head and then lying about how it happened. Five policemen tasering an immigrant at the airport without even making an effort to speak to him first. A lot of money going missing from the RCMP pension fund and graft and patronage practiced right at the top. These, and hundreds of other incidents have not helped the image of the RCMP in our country. And unfortunately, I don't see much of an effort being made to change that image. Now that a non-police officer has been put in as head of the RCMP until the closet can be cleaned out, there's obvious resentment. Even our Sergeant expressed severe resentment at the meeting at the fact that there wasn't even a real cop at the top anymore. That's not a good thing. If you don't have respect for your superiors, are you going to have respect for local community members that you feel are inferior to you? The same man told me when he first arrived that he believed strongly in community policing. I stated at the time that we definitely needed the RCMP to work more closely with the community because we are losing that sense of cooperation and mutual respect that we always had before. However, I haven't seen any sign whatsoever that the local RCMP are making an effort in that direction and the future's looking a little grim.

05/11/2007 11:11 AM

RCMP Continued

The following is a continuation of articles written about the RCMP in both our community and British Columbia in general. If you're feeling lost, I recommend you read the articles from start to finish from the bottom of this page and work your way to the most recent at the top. If you have any questions, concerns, complaints of your own to pass on, or you're a cop and would like to bite my head off, please feel free to contact me using the link to your left.

Several events occurred that brought about the meeting with the RCMP Member in charge of the Anahim Lake Detachment a week ago
.
Admittedly, some of the complaints had to do with people drinking at house parties and sadly, when you indulge, you pretty much play into the hands of the police. So right or wrong on how things were handled in a couple of cases, it's difficult to make judgment just for that reason.
The Chilcotin has had hard working, hard partying people in the country since the beginning of time. It started out with going over to a ranch hours or days away for some occasion, usually on horseback, and imbibing hooch along the way, as well as when you got there. Things continued that way for years even with the advent of the vehicle, (don't forget, the vehicle arrived out here long after the rest of North America!) There was usually little problem because the roads were always empty of other people, and if you hit the ditch because you drank too much, you just kind of hoped it wasn't too cold and you didn't freeze to death before someone came along to pull you out.
The national drinking and driving laws changed all that and though change was slower to come to the boondocks, everyone knows the rules. Many people are aware that if they attend a house party and they drink, they're breaking the rules and taking a chance if they try to drive home. I can remember the police cruising the parking lots of the bars in Williams Lake twenty five years ago at closing time looking for impaired drivers. We all expect that. However, in the case of a couple of over loud house warming parties just outside of Anahim Lake recently, I understand that most people stayed overnight to prevent being picked up for impaired, but that the police were at the gates of the home the next day, stopping everyone to see if they had been drinking. I'm not sure, but that just might be overstepping the bounds. Be that as it may, that isn't an issue I care to address.
However, one issue I would address if true appears to be a case of harassment. Apparently, a fellow coming out to visit one of the people that complained against the police, explained who he was coming to visit after being stopped on the highway. Allegedly, when he replied he had not been drinking when asked, (this was during the day and the fellow had just completed a long trip from another province) the police refused to believe him and pulled him in for a breathalyzer. As I understand it, he was made to comply with repeating the test four more times. He was not at all impaired. If true, this is way over the line and in the fellow's place, I would be livid.
Something very similar has happened to many of our tourists passing through. A guide outfitter said that every single one of his hunters that came through Anahim Lake this year was stopped and questioned by police. One from as far away as New Mexico said he had not been stopped in a roadblock the entire drive until he got here. A couple of other hunters said they hadn't been stopped at all going several thousand miles until they got near Anahim Lake. One resort operator said that they often have tourists that stay here but drive down to Bella Coola for the day. Two tourists in one week reported being stopped both coming and going. Several have said they will not be returning because they have never been hassled by police anywhere on their travels to the extent that they have been here. That has serious implications for an area that relies so heavily on the tourism industry.
Probably one of the best descriptions of what I would term mild police harassment, but harassment nonetheless, was from a young lady at the meeting where she described being followed for some distance by a local police vehicle that tailgated her so closely, she could not see its headlights. The vehicle would drop back, then it would pull up and tailgate her again. This happened several times before the lights went on and she was pulled over. She was immediately asked if she had been drinking and she replied no, that she had just gotten off work and was driving home. She had to go through the routine checks. There was no ticket and no apparent reason for being stopped so she asked why she had been. The answer was that she had an N tag in her back window. She stated she was wearing her seatbelt, wasn't speeding, everything was working correctly on her vehicle and she had license and registration and wondered how an N tag could possibly be reason enough to be stopped. Apparently, the police officer didn't feel he had to give her any reason for stopping her.
This seems odd considering......
Several of us from both communities reported to the police both formally and informally that we strongly suspected a Grow Op at the south end of the lake. We had a lot of evidence and good clues to back that suspicion up, including personal assault, blown Hydro transformers, a windowless building which was the only one in the country with no snow on the roof in midwinter, and an outsider from Vancouver traveling back and forth over there. The police said that they could not ask to look inside a building on rumors alone. Yeah, that's a good one. I wonder how they bust Grow Ops in the Lower Mainland unless they start with a tip? The police refused to investigate yet a few months later a large number of pot plants, lighting fixtures, wire, etc. were found in the Kleena Kleene landfill, and it was very obvious to the new owner of the property, and to everyone that he showed the building to, that it had been a Grow Op.
So what that looks like is that our police are brave enough to stop a young girl on the highway by herself for no reason, and harass numerous tourists and local citizens in roadblocks time after time, after time, but they're not about to bust a Grow Op. Too much paperwork, perhaps?
The complaints at the meeting were too numerous to list, and the complaints I have heard over the last couple of years also too numerous. While some may date back to people that have lived in fortunate isolation for many years and are accustomed to doing as they please, the large number of very legitimate complaints is extremely troublesome. And that's just from the white people.
Our Native people are actually quite shy by nature and will rarely speak out in public, particularly against authority. And yet from all accounts, they distrust, dislike, nay... hate! our local constabulary now. Some of this may stem from the way of life in this country that the local RCMP are not only not tuned into, but are not even making an attempt to understand.
You see, natives and whites always had horses out here. If you didn't get around on a horse, you didn't get around. You never needed a drivers license or insurance for a horse and you could go pretty much over any terrain, which is a necessary ability in this country, because we don't have much in the way of roads.
When you pack a whole bunch of people onto tiny Reserves, the resources generally are not there to keep a horse. No hay meadows, no hay, etc.
Then along came the ATV. The snowmobile, the motorbike, the three wheel ATV and the fourwheelers. Over a period of years quite a few people have acquired them because they are so suited to this country where nothing else is. Many of the Natives have them and because you don't need a driver's license or registration to run them off road, their fourwheeler has replaced the horse, or their unlicensed old pickup, as the way to get around. I don't know the numbers, but I would guess that there are at least half as many off road vehicles, (which include snowmobiles, motorbikes, etc.) in the region as there are trucks and cars operating on the road.
The problem starts when you go on the road with an off road vehicle, and it has been a source of contention between the police and local community members for the last couple of years.
There's an extensive series of trails here that were old horse, game, or wagon trails that snake all over the place. But sometimes you have to cross the highway or down a side road to access them. That, of course, is illegal. I can understand the law, but I don't understand it as applied here because it really makes no sense. No, you should not be driving down the highway with your fourwheeler because of speed, but why shouldn't you be able to drive down or across any side road? We have very little vehicle traffic here so you aren't holding anyone up. The old girl on her electric wheel chair that drives miles up and down Christiansen Road every day is far more of a danger to traffic because she takes up the middle of the road, goes slow, and rarely moves over. In fact, I'm not even sure she looks in the rear view mirror that she now has on her wheelchair. Somehow I'm willing to bet that no local cop has ever had the nerve to pull her over. Why? The whole sympathy thing. Awww..... She's in a wheelchair. Besides, if the police did do it, they'd have the bleeding hearts on them like flies on manure, and they know it.
But the police do have the law on their side for everyone else and they use it. Or abuse it, by some accounts. The underage, and very old, and everything in between, the Native and non-Native and everything in between, have for years driven off road vehicles everywhere to get around. Everyone knows the law. Don't drive on the road and try to not get stopped crossing the road. There are extensive ATV trails alongside the highway and some along the secondaries, but in some cases there aren't and if you have to go along the side of the secondary road to Grandma's, your girlfriend's, your buddy's, or to look for cattle, why can't you? If you're 70 years old and that's how you get to the store for your groceries, why can't you? The police can make the case that one Reserve is only a half mile walk to the store from most houses, while the other is up to two miles. There are many people that cannot make that walk because of their knees, their back, whatever. Those same people often have never held a driver's license and must depend on family or friends to get them what they need. There are others on the Reserves that have lost their driver's license for DUI or some other infraction. They can't get around unless they drive an ATV. Most of the time they drive them off road. If they have to cross the highway on occasion, I don't have a problem with that. You know why? Because I would much rather keep an eye out on a fourwheeler crossing the road in front of me than be in a head on collision with that same guy driving drunk in a pickup truck because someone impounded his fourwheeler.
If you see where I'm going with this, hold up your hand.
Here's some more examples.
As I've mentioned many times, we have an extensive trail system in back of our place that I walk and that actually goes out to the highway, follows the highway, and goes up to Nimpo. One year I took the tranny out of my truck coming up the ramp off the lake when the truck went through the ice. By the time I could find someone to haul the truck to town, find an affordable transmission, have it installed, and then find a day where Andy, who was working at the time, could give me a ride in to Williams Lake to pick it up, was at least a month. Since I was working up at Nimpo at the time and Andy was using his vehicle to get to his job, that meant I had to drive the fourwheeler. That could be accomplished off road almost the entire way, except at the bridge across the Dean River, and just before getting to my workplace, I would have to cross the highway to access the trail on the other side. What to do?
We have a neighbour that gets to work that way and in winter can cross the lake, but in summer? Another neighbour in his late seventies was ticketed for using his fourwheeler to go to Nimpo Lake to pick up his mail. The police officer that fined him for driving on our secondary road watched him pull off the trail along the highway onto our road knowing full well that he would have to be on it to cross the bridge over the Dean River. After that he could get back on the adjacent trail. A few moments on a dusty gravel road rarely traveled got him a ticket and substantial fine to help bite into his pension.
I've worked with lots of guys at the mill in summer that were too young to have a driver's license and so got to the mill on fourwheelers or motorbikes. That's easy enough on the back trails during the day when you can see where you're going but getting back home after evening shift in the dark is not so easy. Following the roads is much safer. I knew one young guy that followed the trails during the day but was afraid to be on the back trail at night when his shift was over because if his motorbike broke down, he would have to walk ten miles home in the dark where there were both grizzly and black bears. Can't say I blame him for wanting to follow the main road after midnight. Illegal, yes, but he couldn't ask his parent to come and get him and his bike at 1:00 AM when that same parent had to be up for the morning shift. We aren't in the city and there's no transit system and no taxi here folks. It's a long way from one place to the next whether the grocery store, the mail, or your place of work. For that matter, it would be a long walk for Andy to come and check up on me while I'm on one of my walks and seem to be taking overly long to get home. He could wander around the country for several hours walking, or take only a few minutes on a fourwheeler running the back trails figuring out where I was.
For that matter, local area ranchers depend heavily on ATVs to check on cattle. But if that rancher were to be caught crossing the highway or a secondary road to look for or move cattle, they would be breaking the law. That's ironic considering that cattle and horses can be all over the highway on what's considered open range for months, creating an extreme hazard to travelers, but nobody gets fined for that.
There has been bitter complaint from local community members who consider that they, their children, or their relatives are being harassed continuously by the police for driving off road vehicles on or across the secondary roads or through Anahim Lake.
I realize that the law is the law. But when is a law a bad one? Or an inequitable one? Or one that simply is not applicable to the location in which it is being applied? Is it possible to bend the law or simply not apply it in each and every circumstance where no harm is done, and keep a good balance between the letter of the law and a reality that is location specific? How do you go about reaching and maintaining that delicate balance?
Well, it can't be that difficult because most RCMP Members stationed here for their one year stint since the local office was opened in 1970 by Larry H. have done a remarkable job of doing just that. What has changed in the last couple of years that cause many to look at the local RCMP as Rambos that set out to deliberately terrorize them? The RCMP compound and all of the brand, spanking, new homes that they live in are surrounded by high metal fences. It's the general consensus that when those gates open, the police are like a bunch of pit bulls being released on the general public.
The young lady that I mentioned above that was being tailgated by police before being pulled over stated that she felt very strongly that she was being pushed to speed so that the police could give her a speeding ticket.
That and much else points to a shocking public image problem and a complete lack of trust in our police force.
Tomorrow: From 1970 to 2007. The New Face of the RCMP.
04/11/2007 11:30 AM

In The Dark

Our little snowstorm yesterday put us in the dark for most of the evening. Shortly after nine the power dimmed, came back on for a moment, and then went out completely. Probably a snow loaded tree came down across the line, or one of the lines themselves, for that matter. When Andy went down to the other end of Nimpo Lake before supper to help neighbours there fix a private line, he noted that many of the power lines along the way were stretched pretty badly with the snow load.
We do have a generator but it isn't set up yet the way we want it but that will be done soon. In the meanwhile, we had a nice candlelit evening, as did everyone else in the community. At least in this part of the country if the power goes out you still have heat from wood stoves , and in our case, the lake for water. I certainly would not want to be in the position of a lot of people elsewhere that rely on electricity for their heat.
Today has dawned gloriously clear with that deep, deep blue sky and everything else a glowing white. There are always some downsides to a good dump of snow of course. Our neighbour has already made a couple of passes with his snow plow this morning and Andy is already out on the Bobcat clearing our yard and driveway. But otherwise, if winter has to come early, this is certainly getting bang for our buck!
On to less happy things.
(Continuation of the article of November
01/11/2007 at the bottom of this page.)
A little over a week ago members of the Anahim Lake community had a meeting at the community hall to air their complaints with the Sergeant of the local RCMP Detachment. Apparently there were enough complaints from all people, of all ages, all sexes, regardless of ethnic background, (meaning it's not just the Natives that are pissed off) over a period of time, to warrant a meeting.
It all started about three years ago and became most noticeable at Stampede time. I guess the Detachment Commander at the time decided he was going to 'clean up' the Anahim Lake Stampede. Whether on Williams Lake's orders or not, I don't really know. It's true that it's always been a bit like the Wild West out here at Stampede time and that's probably its attraction to a lot of tourists. And I don't think there's anything wrong with having some roadblocks in the evening and at night to sort out drunk drivers but we've always had those. Nor do I think there's much wrong with keeping liquor in the beer garden and out of everywhere else because it is a family affair.
But that year the RCMP got pretty extreme and I heard numerous complaints from all manner of people, including tourists that said they wouldn't be back. Not young party goers. No, these were middle aged people driving rigs worth a quarter million that were getting thoroughly sick and tired of being stopped in a roadblock in the mornings and having to wait in line. Numerous people that weren't even going to the Stampede were fed up with being stopped constantly, asked if they had been drinking, asked for drivers license and registration, and in many cases this was in the middle of the day. On more than one occasion people at the Stampede watched the RCMP walking through the parking lot and if they came across a vehicle with the doors unlocked, they would open the vehicle and look through it with flashlights for liquor.
I heard enough about the roadblocks in the two days previous to Stampede that I simply avoided Anahim Lake for the week and so wasn't directly exposed, but I certainly heard from quite a few people that they wouldn't be attending it in future either. The following year the Anahim Lake Stampede was canceled due to a nearby forest fire, and frankly, I think because of the behavior of the police from the previous year. Once word had gotten around, organizers just didn't want to risk an extremely low attendance and end up losing money.
Thereafter, I heard nearly everyone from both Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake complain vociferously about the daily roadblocks. People driving home from work at the mill at 2:30 in the afternoon could expect to be stopped on a regular bases. Asked for license, registration, seat belt check, where they were coming from and where they were going, and if they had been drinking, I think most people were accepting at first, understanding that a push to get the small number of locals off of the road that have not had licenses or insurance for years and drive drunk constantly, was a good thing. But this was occurring for weeks on end and the same people were being asked repeatedly for their identification, sometimes only a couple of days from the last time they were asked. In a region with a total population of only about 1,300 people, of which probably less than half drive, and far fewer on the same 20 mile stretch of road every day, you would think that the police would remember who had a driver's license and who didn't. You don't have to live in this country very long before you recognize who drives what and know who you're waving to when you pass each other on the highway. And yet we are not members of a police force supposedly trained in the 'art' of observation.
When asked why they were being stopped constantly, many people were told that residents of the Two Mile Indian Reserve along the highway were complaining of speeders. Although, one of the Corporals eventually admitted privately that most of the speeders caught were actually residents of Two Mile Reserve, so that didn't wash.
Then it seemed the police kicked it up a notch and were getting really sticky. One infuriated leader in the community had been stopped and ticketed a huge cash fine for creeping through a stop sign. It's actually a stop sign at the Dutchman restaurant where it's next to impossible to see past the sign to check for oncoming vehicles on your right. So you have to creep past the sign to see that the highway is clear before proceeding. You can stop completely at that point in time, but the nose of your vehicle is projecting out onto the highway. No big deal normally, but in winter it is. You don't stop. You creep and then when you are sure there are no vehicles coming from either direction, you get going because you don't want to leave the nose of your vehicle sitting out in the intersection when it's icy. If you come to a full stop where it's safe to do so farther back from the intersection, you can't see past the sign so that's kind of pointless. If you try to stop and then take off from where you can see that it's safe to do so, you will spin out on the ice. So now you're concentrating on getting your forward momentum, because you've lost it, because you've come to a complete stop, and now a vehicle is coming around the corner at you. Yes, there are corners coming from both directions. That's why you don't stop. You creep up to the intersection maintaining momentum at about 2mph where you are going lots slow enough to stop, but you are able to keep going because the intersection is clear, (which is about 99 percent of the time, believe it or not).
It's a dumb way to have an intersection. We didn't put it there. But we've all become accustomed to entering it a certain way. Old habits die hard. I stop in the summer, but not in the winter. In my view, it's more dangerous to stop in winter than not to. Either way, this guy got stopped, fined, and the police would not listen to an explanation. Since then, I understand they've made it a habit to stop everyone they see for not coming to a full stop at stop signs. Fair enough. The law is the law. And yet, as was brought up at the meeting last week by one fellow recently nailed for not coming to a full stop, every single day you can watch a police vehicle run the stop sign behind the welding shop coming from the Reserve onto main street in Anahim Lake.
I happen to know that this occurs because I have watched a police vehicle do it often over the years when I have been loading groceries into my vehicle in front of the store. As far as I know, the RCMP Members have always run that stop sign and apparently still do, regardless of what law they're trying to uphold. Old habits die hard.
What they don't understand is that they have local residents frustrated on a number of levels. Locals are going to notice when you are costing them several hundred dollars on a ticket but you're too arrogant to clean up your own act.
I've had few dealings with the RCMP in the area because I rarely drive to Anahim and often don't go to Nimpo Lake more than once a week. Once the ice is on Nimpo Lake, if we have an ice road, I get around that way for at least three months out of the year. I think Andy was stopped and questioned at a roadblock at eight in the morning on his way to the airport to pick up guests of ours this summer. But other than that, although we've listened with concern to many of the complaints, we've tried to see both sides.
Our biggest complaint along with the rest of the people in the area is that the number of police out here is growing larger, yet our population does not warrant it, and our residential taxes are being raised to pay for them.
We didn't have a problem until the Country Inn caught fire up in Nimpo Lake last fall. Our local Detachment Commander finally arrived on the scene after four water trucks, equipment, many people with pumps, and everyone in the community ready and willing to protect the two businesses on either side as well as the surrounding area, were getting set up.
It had been extremely dry and the danger of this fire bomb setting off a forest fire wasn't just possible, it was going to happen. The pine beetle killed trees around the property were exploding like torches and something needed to be done quickly. This 'person', who was very obviously terrified of electricity and knew absolutely nothing about it, put up a roadblock and refused to allow anyone near enough to try to water down or protect adjacent businesses, propane tanks, and fuel tanks. It was only a miracle, pure and simple, because none of us have any other word for it, that saved our community that night. It sure as hell was no thanks to that arrogant idiot, for want of a better word.
A meeting with this Commander afterwards revealed clearly what we had already guessed. He didn't know anything about power lines, wouldn't listen to anyone that did, and anything we said pretty much went in one ear, and out the other. Apparently, to the disgust of most of those that attended, a very similar attitude was displayed by the present Commander at the community meeting in Anahim Lake last week.
I'll continue about the meeting in the next article.

03/11/2007 5:23 PM

Snowstorm Number Two

With nearly seven inches of snow in only about three hours, I decided that's what I needed to be concentrating on. I had intended on continuing the article about the RCMP today but it started snowing early this afternoon and I wanted to get some other work done before the power went out. Then the battery backup on my computer let out a bleep and although the power came back on, it looked to be for an uncertain length of time so I shut everything down.
Since the temperature is sitting barely above freezing we're getting those big snowflakes that create heavy, wet snow. The kind that has so much moisture in it that it packs under its own weight. Since we have a steep roof, snow comes sliding off of it with enough force to shake the deck. As a result, it piles up in a hurry and if you leave it for too long, you have cement. Once it started doing that we figured we had better get outside with our shovels and start clearing decks. We cleared the small front one, then no sooner cleared the front deck but the back one had to be redone.
I tried to clear my truck a bit and we had to clear off the big boat before the canopy collapsed. No sooner had we finished than Andy got a call from a neighbour at the other end of the lake. Their power had gone out and they needed his help to flip the fuse on the pole back on. That was probably the couple of blips we got here.
I think the snow is letting up a bit anyway. I can see the island out in the lake now and the thumping from snow falling off the roof has slowed a bit. Still, this isn't going to be pretty because I expect enough will melt in the next few days to make a real mess of things.
Nimpo Lake was still enough all day for quite a bit of slush to build up among the reeds near shore. I saw an immature loon out there earlier today before the snow started. November third and we still have a loon. He's a little guy though, and may have been born quite late, which is probably why he's still here. I watched him trail from the middle of the lake to near our shore and he sure was on the lookout and very watchful. It must be difficult for a single loon that no longer has the eyes of other loons all over the lake to warn of approaching Bald Eagles. I'm surprised he's survived on his own this long. He won't for much longer if he doesn't think about heading south. Although if you look up on the right, he certainly doesn't have any problem catching fish.
I just watched the weather channel for a moment and nearly the whole province was blanketed by the monster system you could see out in the Pacific a couple of days ago. It's passing through on its way to the prairies now and it almost looks like there might be some clearing behind it. The jet stream was running right over top of us, which would explain the heavy snow, but it looks like it might move north for the next couple of days. Hopefully we'll see some sunshine tomorrow.
I certainly don't envy the east coast which is just now seeing the remainder of tropical storm Noel. Winds are predicted to gust to about 80 miles per hour with sustained winds of 45mph. Some areas are estimated to get 88mm or rain which is about 3 1/5 inches of the wet stuff. Not nice at all. This is already a storm that's done too much damage and killed too many people. It needs to go away.
Our dollar hit over 1.07 against the American dollar this week which I think is a record high. No point in getting too smug though. A lot of our dollars are going south of the border where Canadian shoppers can get more bang for their buck. I understand their frustration with a lot of the Canadian stores selling merchandise for so much higher than the value of our dollar warrants. Most of the stores claim that much of their stock was bought at old prices and I'm sure that's true in a lot of cases. However, Canadian stores have been abusing that excuse for a lot of years and it's not like they haven't known for the last eight months that the loonie was expected to hit par by this fall. But I do feel sorry for some shop owners that generally carry inventory over the long term. Camera and mom and pop bookstores as noted on the news come to mind. I'm sure some books in those smaller bookstores may have been there for at least a couple of years. And I'm certain a lot of inventory in camera shops could easily be a year old. I sympathize with shop owners that are forced to bite the bullet and sell at cost or a loss or risk losing customers to cross border shopping and the Internet.
Unfortunately, the long term abuse of the inequity between the US and Canadian dollar has teed a lot of people off and no excuse will do now. Canadian stores aren't the only ones pulling that right now though. I had to renew my anti-virus online this week and if I did it as a computer located in Canada, it was going to cost me $13 more if I renewed in Canadian funds than in American. So I renewed in American funds meaning I'll save my $13 plus whatever advantage my credit card company will give me on the exchange. Since this is one of the leading anti-virus companies in the world, it seems odd that they haven't changed their pricing. I can only assume that they are scamming the unwary.
I'll try to get on with the police article tomorrow. Have a good Saturday folks. Drive safe!
01/11/2007 6:37 PM

November Winter Wonderland

We're barely into November but we're well on our way to a very nice winter wonderland out there. We kind of figured last night's snow would stick around once the thermometer started dropping. It actually got down to -8C here and -9C or around 15F across the lake last night. Probably the coldest we've had yet this fall. It didn't get that much above freezing today but it was really nice in the sun and a walk in the woods was quite pleasant today with quite a few squirrel tracks showing up in the snow.
There's another massive system spiraling in from the ocean directly aimed at us and the north coast. The south coast is protected from this monster by a weak high pressure system for now so they shouldn't see the nasty winds predicted for the Prince Rupert area. I don't know that it will get all that windy for us but since Bella Coola has a fair amount of rain coming, I wouldn't be surprised to see more of the white stuff for us.
I don't actually mind seeing a nice snow like this, even if it stays. It covers up that ratty black ground and dead stuff left from a cold fall and just gives everything a nice, fresh, clean look. Besides, white snow always looks stunning against a blue lake in what is still pretty bright sunshine. It's when our sun is pretty watery and weak looking in deep winter and the lake frozen over that it looks a little more like the Arctic around here.
We heard last night that the Bella Coola Hill and the road to Anahim got a fair amount of snow yesterday, leaving trucks and cars in the ditch. We only got about 2 1/4 inches of snow in the end, but it was still slippery driving home last night. I'm assuming this means that winter is here. Oh well, had to happen sometime.
On to things more grim.
We've been following the news on television about a man that was tasered by five RCMP officers at the Vancouver airport less than two weeks ago. The man was Polish and had been stuck at the airport for ten hours after getting off of his plane. Unable to speak any English, and with no one to meet him at the airport, over a period of time he became increasingly restless, and then agitated and panic stricken. Security guards called the RCMP and cell phone video shows that less than 24 seconds from the time they arrived the five cops tasered the man and took him down. Witnesses say there was no negotiation, no attempt to talk to the man or to calm him down and he died shortly after being tasered.
When first watching all of this and without all of the information, we made a lot of excuses for the police. Possibly the man had been drinking while he was waiting for his mother to pick him up, was on drugs, or hadn't taken his antidepressants. But an autopsy has since shown that there was no trace of alcohol or drugs in his system. He was simply in a strange country with no one to translate for him, his mother obviously did not meet him at the airport when she was supposed to, and he was scared.
Hell of a greeting upon reaching our country, isn't it?
This outrageous incident came shortly after a public inquest into the actions of an RCMP Member that shot a kid from Houston in the back of the head at the police station. He had arrested the guy for possessing a beer at a hockey game and for laughingly giving the cop a false name. The cop claimed that upon release of the guy, he turned on the cop who supposedly feared for his life and the cop was forced to shoot him. Well, the shot in the back of the skull looked a little suspicious to begin with and the cop had a long cock and bull story about how it had happened. An expert showed that the shooting could not possibly have happened the way the cop claimed it had. Yet the entire time his department defended him after investigating him and claimed that all was right with the system.
This, and numerous other questionable incidents have left a very sour taste in the mouths of Canadians all across the country when it comes to their beloved Mounted Police. I can't say that I blame them. I was raised to respect authority and have all of my life had a deep, deep respect for the RCMP. For some time though, that respect has faltered. Not because of personal dealings, but because of too many incidents reported by the media and it's not just words. Many people carry cell phones with camera capability, and many people carry cameras with video capability. The RCMP have been accustomed to investigating their own, sticking together regardless of results, and we've had no choice all of these years but to trust them. But in the last few years, there have been just too many pictures taken and too many videos that have belied their word.
Case in point. A young man, tired after a long flight, had just gotten off the plane when he noticed the ruckus involving the Polish man at the Vancouver airport. The young man took a video on his camera of the entire incident which apparently included the voice of one cop asking another if he could taser the man as they ran by and then did exactly that. After it was all over and the cops were questioning witnesses, the young man indicated that he had the video and agreed to loan the camera and video to the police. He was specifically promised the return of the camera and video within 48 hours. Although the police have finally returned the camera, they have refused to return the video of the incident with a spokesman saying that people would get the wrong impression about the behavior of the attending police officers that tasered the man, and that all investigations would have to be done before the video would be returned. Supposedly, they indicated to the owner of the video that it could take one to two years before it was returned to him.
The young guy has hired a lawyer and is now taking the RCMP to court for the return of the tape, citing that it is his property and the public has the right to see the video. This, as you can imagine, has caused quite a ruckus and enormous public outcry causing the RCMP to back pedal somewhat. The RCMP spokesman has now claimed that the video will be returned soon. Real soon. (Presumably this has been said to delay the court case.) Privately, both of us feel that if it is returned, parts of it will have been 'accidentally' adjusted or destroyed. That's almost a given. As a computer graphics expert, I can assure you that it is very easy to adjust pictures or video seamlessly, and I am guessing the reason it is going to take another week to ten days to return the video is to give time to specialists to do just that. I never thought I would see the day I would say this, being as conservative and law abiding as I am, but I think the judge should require the immediate return of the video tomorrow morning to prevent any 'adjustment'.
Gee...it's almost like living in a police state, isn't it?
As the young man suggests, at a time when public trust in the RCMP is faltering so badly, borrowing a video willingly lent, and then refusing to return it because it might make the police look bad, doesn't instill a lot of trust, does it?
There are a couple of important points here. For one thing, why did it take five uniformed officers to take down one confused and scared man? And if there were five, then why was it necessary to use a taser? If there was only one officer and things looked like they were out of hand, maybe I could see it. But five? C'mon!!! They didn't even try to talk to him or anything else. Just tasered him 24 seconds after coming through the door. There is something really wrong with the eagerness to use those little gems, especially in view of the number of people that have died from them.
I hailed tasers when I first heard of them as being an excellent tool in the arsenal of men and women that have to put their lives on the line every day. But there have been several incidents throughout North America in the past year that indicate police are too quick to use tasers and there are too many fatalities as a result. Solution, take them away from the police as you would a BB gun from a child that has misused his toy.
Personally, I think that a lot of the eagerness to use tasers stems from the moment the height and weight requirements were changed for those wishing to join the RCMP. That was a long time ago but we really seem to be reaping what was sown when those rules were changed.
Watch some of the shows on television such as Cops and an utterly disgusting Canadian made reality show on called 'To Serve and Protect'. For each vehicle stopped, you must listen to the police screaming at the top of their voices over and over again at the driver they have just stopped and that has just exited the vehicle. Usually, "Get down, get down, get down." Or, "Get out, get out, get out......." The litany just goes on and on and frankly, the cops always sound terrified. If I were a drug crazed dealer or a bad guy that just stole a car, I don't know if I would be all that reluctant to take on one of these uniforms screaming like a silly school girl. Perhaps they're trained that way nowadays. Perhaps the repetitive screaming is supposed to convince the arrestee to do what the police want them to. Somehow, I don't think the terror was intended to be included in that training, though.
Does this mean our police are too young, too short, or too small, to effectively police? What happened to the huge RCMP Members that I used know in the 70's? The ones that seemed utterly calm and utterly fearless, even without pepper spray and tasers? What happened to rookies working closely with a senior Member for years before they were permitted to work alone? And what has happened to just plain talking first and firing later?
Establishment frowns on the use of guns and so eventually pepper spray was developed and seemed to return remarkable results. It assisted police personnel in taking down a difficult arrestee, without apparent long term harm. But pepper spray seems to have fallen out of favor since the arrival of the taser. Is it because there's no risk of pepper spray blowing back in the officer's face? Or is it because it's so much more fun to watch the victim bounce across the floor after receiving a high voltage electric shock?
In any case, the RCMP have a serious image problem right now that needs to be corrected from within the ranks. And in the age of communications and technology, that image problem is being felt even out here. I'll continue with that tomorrow.
As you can see, it's a new week so you'll find last week's stories at October Week Four .


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The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Snowcovered bushes and mountains contrast with the brilliant blue of Nimpo Lake.
 
Bright white snow backdropped by brilliant blue of the lake.
 
A snow covered birdfeeder in front of the lake.
 
A young loon eating a fish in the water.
 
Reeds, blue lake, mountains and white snow on everything.
 
Two inches of snow on trees and bushes.
 
Two red flags show brightly against blue lake and white snow.
 
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