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Wilderness Adventures - Nov., Week Two/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.

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14/11/2007 9:20 PM

The Force

If you're thinking you've read this article before, you probably have. I had it up on the blog yesterday afternoon before the taser video came out. When it did, I posted the article below and removed this one to be re-posted today.
I'm not sure how common the term is to the general populace, but my family have always referred to the RCMP as the Force
.
We had a lot of land up on the 'Mountain' that we first homesteaded in 1970 and because my Dad worked at the Williams Lake Detachment, we always monitored the police channel when he was working. In fact, the radios in their cars at that time often could not be heard back at the Detachment from places like Glendale or out at Comer Hill, so the old man would call up to us and ask what the guys out that way were saying, and we would relay the information over the phone. In fact, I remember one night when there was a guy wandering around out there in the dark with a gun after making threats, and things were pretty tense for a few hours. The guys on the ground couldn't talk to the office or ask for back up, so my Mom and we kids were the relay for a few hours. Two listening to the radio, and one in the middle of the room passing information to the person on the telephone at the other end of the house. (Back in those days if you even had a phone, there was one jack and no such thing as a portable.)
I was just reminded of the many times one, two or three RCMP Members would show up on the mountain, (our ranch was located on top of a mountain about 11 miles out of Williams Lake on a road that was impassable three months out of the year) to sit and have coffee at our kitchen table and b.s. with my old man. They would often go out after coffee and practice shooting with their service revolvers on our target range because every so often they had to pass a shooting exam. Some were excellent shots and some were just bloody awful, and we kids, who had tremendous respect for authority and were also dead shots, would keep our sniggers to ourselves. Being disrespectful was unheard of. 'Unthought' of, for that matter.
I knew most of the Members by name that were posted in Williams Lake, Alexis Creek and eventually Anahim Lake back in those years and of course, my Dad spoke of them and their exploits on each night shift. In fact I probably knew more about what every Member did on his shift for years than his own family did and I saw or was involved in a few memorable moments of my own after leaving home, and got dragged to more than one RCMP Ball. So you see, I grew up among RCMP Members and though I don't think my Dad entirely approved, my sister was seeing a Member for a while and I ended up being married to one years later.
I remember when Star Wars first came out and I heard the term, "May the Force be with you." I remember how odd it sounded. To me, the Force was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and no one else should be able to use that term. Obviously, I have no control over Hollywood and the meaning of the Force now will forever be associated with Luke Skywalker, a Jedi knight and the small, wrinkled Yoda. But for me, the Force was one to be reckoned with. Big guys with heavy boots and belt and gun, and beaver hats in winter. Fearless and confident and determined to protect the public in whatever manner necessary. They had to go through rigorous psychological testing and I remember one guy I saw for a short while that was an auxiliary. He had tried numerous times to get into the Force and was refused every time. Because my Dad worked at the cop shop he actually knew the details as to why the guy wasn't allowed into the Force. Immaturity was the main reason. Too many guys that get picked on in school, had a big chip on their shoulder, or lack confidence or live in fear all their lives and figured a gun on their hip would make a difference. They wanted to join the Force because a uniform would empower them. That psychological testing was there for a reason and weeded those guys out. I think that for the most part, you got guys that became policemen because they wanted to look after community, keep it safe, and put the bad guys away. I'm aware that's a pretty simplistic view but I think that about covers it.
At that time, anyone entering the Force had to be transferred out of their home province, and I understand that it was to ensure RCMP Members were never faced with being posted where they had family members or friends and where a conflict of interest might arise. That meant that a newly minted RCMP Member went where he had no friends, no family and probably wasn't married because if memory serves me right, they had to wait for a period of time after recruitment and until their pay rate reached a certain level before being married. I could be wrong though. So, other detachment Members became their friends and their families, and a new recruit was taken under the wing of a more experienced Member and trained how to police, in a way that worked in a community, not necessarily what was in a police manual.
As a result of this, you ended up with a police community unto itself, where Members either knew personally, or knew of other Members throughout the province and it formed a close kinship that many considered a private little group. There was reason for this. With whom do you share the details of a grisly murder or suicide if you need to get it off your chest? Whom can you trust with police information? Since technically Members were not even supposed to discuss police work with their wives, (most did but you still couldn't and wouldn't, share the really bad stuff with your family because you didn't want them to know how crappy the world actually is out on the streets) this left only their comrades. Out of that, you might expect to see an inhuman wall of jackboots and uniforms. I have never, ever seen that until now. Or I should say, just the last few years. Because all I've ever seen from most RC police officers all of my life, is the strong desire to protect their community. Well...perhaps a morbid and hinky sense of humour as well but how else do you deal with some of the stuff you have to put up with on the streets?
I'm not sure what the underlying reason is for people to join the RCMP now. I don't know if the rigorous psychological testing is no longer in place because the RCMP are having problems finding recruits, or what. Although I have noticed that we're seeing some older recruits that have some life experiences behind them and are much more mature as a result. That's a good thing! But are we getting more people that have been picked on all their lives and the testing isn't picking that up? I've mentioned this before but I mention it again, because I think it's relevant.
Size and height restrictions were in place since the beginning of time when it came to joining the RCMP. That changed when the human rights types got on board in the late seventies and early eighties. They forced a change in height restrictions for men when they insisted that women should be able to join the Force and so size restrictions for men were reduced to that normally fitting a woman.
I have a problem with that.
Actually, I'm torn. I figure if you're a woman and you're tough enough to become a cop without having to use your gun, more power to you. Unfortunately, most of the ones that I've known over the years are not, and so a male Member invariably has to accompany women on many calls. That's a waste of resources no matter how you look at it. And yes, I know I'm going to have a lot of people pissed at me for that comment, but I stand behind it. So be it.
So to make all things equal, they had to let little guys that were five feet F....all join the Force too. If you're over six feet and 225 pounds, you generally don't have to prove anything to the world. It's just human nature for people to automatically assume tangling with a big bruiser of a guy is going to be a bad idea. But if you're short, I don't care how tough you are, you're going to have to convince the odd person that you're man enough to do the job. In my experience, a lot of short guys have a chip on their shoulder from a long life of battles starting in grade school and it's a chip they carry throughout their lives. You'll have a hard time convincing me that a short, fat little cop isn't carrying a chip on his shoulder and a hard on for the general populace, regardless of what kind of uniform he's wearing.
I'll tell you a little story.
Years ago there was a southwestern State that was experiencing a lot of shootings, abuse, major problems, etc. when people were stopped in their vehicles by police. Apparently, the solution was to require all Highway Patrol Officers to be over six feet tall. They had to wear a Stetson cowboy hat, and high heeled cowboy boots. They had to take a course on manners and interacting with people, and required to treat every single solitary person they stopped with the utmost of courtesy and respect. Every man they stopped was called Sir at the end of every query and reply and every woman called Ma'am. Those good old boys were literally dripping with old fashioned courtesy. The general public was encouraged to contact Highway Patrol offices if they encountered one single Patrolman that was anything but overly courteous. The results were immediate and remarkable. Shootings dropped to zero. Abusive language from people stopped. Complaints about Patrolmen from people dropped to nearly zero. People actually thanked Patrolmen for their tickets. Amazing, isn't it? If you're a jackass and tend to be abusive toward a police officer that stops you for a traffic infraction, it's much more difficult to be mouthy with someone big, tall, and very polite that doesn't rise to the bait and is showing you a tremendous amount of respect. On the other hand, if you're a jackass, you might be more inclined to be abusive to a little short cop because you know how to push his buttons. End of story.
Police nowadays are faced with a myriad of problems that will probably only grow worse. A video game generation that thinks killing a real human being is the same as killing a character on their computer screen. A generation of kids raised by parents that both worked, may not have time for their kids, and forgot to teach them respect for authority. An unbelievable drug problem that is at the root of increased gang violence, robbery, car theft and shootings. On the other side of the street are cops that have more technological gadgets at their fingertips than any before, video equipment on their car, good communication system, excellent 911 response system, and a lot of fear. Why?

14/11/2007 6:08 PM

The Video

A video was to be released today after 9 p.m. Eastern and 6 p.m. Pacific time showing the tasering of the Polish Immigrant killed at the Vancouver Airport.
You know what? I'm afraid I have to use the same words as many people that saw the video and who were interviewed.
Disturbing. Deeply Disturbing. Actually, I have to say sickening.
I'm sure we've all watched the show Cops at least once and seen someone being tasered. Although I've always found the use of tasers a little disturbing because they look downright cruel, you're able to shrug the image off because the guy being tasered is always depicted as a bad guy, a big bruiser resisting arrest or some drug crazed guy that just can't be taken down by police. It's not until you see some of the shots they showed on television tonight of others being tasered that you realize what a nasty problem we have on our hands. A woman sitting on the pavement surrounded by six cops being tasered repeatedly even though she is no longer resisting arrest. If she ever was. A man outside a courthouse who was resisting arrest but had already been taken down by two cops when he was tasered repeatedly by a third cop. A woman, by the way. And then to see that poor victim at the airport. The whole thing is just freaking disgusting! Sorry folks, but I don't have any other word for it. I really don't.
The Polish guy spoke no English and before embarking on his long flight to Canada, had been told by his mother to stay in the baggage area when he arrived. She would find him. It was the first time he had ever been on an airplane.
After arriving he waited for 6 hours in Arrivals, apparently assuming that was where he was supposed to be. (His mother waited for him but could not find him.) At no time did any airport staff make an effort to question him, or help him. Eventually he made his way through Immigration and was cleared through there at 12:30 at night. At this point he had been on Canadian soil for 8 1/2 hours. He began to enter the baggage claims area and then backed back into the secure room he was in. I can understand how he might feel. He can't speak English and it's obvious to him that if he leaves the area his is in, he cannot return. (Secure area, of course. Once out of the gate, you can't get back in that way.) He becomes agitated and begins to throw things, including a piece of computer equipment that had been sitting on a desk and then wanders around with a small table. People on the other side of the doors in the baggage claim area, including a woman, attempt to talk to him and even though she cannot legally enter the room, she still appears to succeed in calming him down through the glass walls enclosing the secure area.
Two airport security guards stand at the exit to the room but do not appear to make an attempt to talk to the man, find a translator, calm him down, or try to find out what's going on. They just wait for the cops to arrive. Four uniforms arrive at 1:30 in the morning and are told repeatedly by several people as they run past that the man cannot speak English. And yet they are yelling at him in English. The Polish man doesn't even look that unhappy to see them. Although very obviously scared, I think that he had hoped his actions would bring someone in authority and someone that could understand him. You can see him holding his hands up and then turning away, shrugging, apparently disappointed that again, there is no one that can understand what he says. Four freaking cops and he gets tasered. He is screaming in pain, his body convulsing all over the place as he is being hit with 50,000 volts and those four useless bastards pin him to the ground. As he vibrates from the shocks, one of them yells, "Hit him again!" Two cops are on top of him, one with his knee in the man's neck pinning him to the floor, the other on his back, and he's tasered again. I cannot begin to describe how disgusted and angry I am. At the very least they should be charged with an excessive use of force and lose their jobs. At the very least.
....Four cops and two security guards in a secure customs area where they know the man cannot possibly have a firearm or weapon of any other sort, and where he cannot possibly run away, and where there is no one else that he could possibly harm.....I'm telling you, I have seen six year old girls with more courage in their little fingers than any of those useless SOB's will ever have! So far as I am concerned, those chicken shit bastards should have to remove their uniforms and never, ever, be permitted to don them again. Angry? Damned rights I am! I hope every single Canadian is as angry as I am. I thought I would never hear myself saying this because I do not believe in frivolous civil law suits. But I really hope that man's mother takes the Vancouver International Airport and the RCMP to every court in the land for as much as she can possibly get in monetary compensation for the death of her only son.
The first day of an immigrant's new life, and he dies pinned to the floor by four cops, holding nothing more dangerous than a small stapler in his hand.
Welcome to our country.
Figures released on the newscast show that since tasers came into use 269 people in the US have died and 17 in Canada. As was pointed out, there are strict standards for any hair dryer sold in Canada and yet there are no testing standards required for tasers used by our police force. As I mentioned in previous articles, tasers quickly replaced pepper spray as the weapon of choice for police officers in North America and after watching some of the footage of other taser incidents on the news tonight, I can only assume the cops are using it because they're sadistic bastards. It's quite one thing to use a weapon to help you bring someone dangerous to the ground so that you can control them bodily. Especially if you're by yourself. It's quite another to repeatedly use such a deadly weapon after the victim is on the ground, particularly when there are several officers present. In fact, if there are several officers present, I can't see any excuse in the world for pulling out a taser.
Can I be objective about it at this point in time? No. So far as I am concerned, all tasers should be removed from Canadian police until after an independent investigation is done on the airport incident, and recommendations made as to whether they should be used here at all and in what circumstances. Because according to official standards, at this point police are permitted to use them under nearly any circumstance, even though the person may be non violent and unarmed, and even though there are no testing standards in place indicating the dangers of the weapon. Since members of our police force, whether through lack of training or the kind of people now being brought into the RCMP, are unable to make good decisions on the use of tasers, I think that the weapon should be taken away. Perhaps then our police can go back to the art of good policing rather than the gutless Rambo stuff we've been seeing of late.
If you're of a mind to see the disgusting actions of our country's finest, you can find it at YVR Taser Video - Viewer discretion advised for right now. I'm not sure how long it will be posted there but I'm sure it will make its way to other media outlets in short order.
There was another story posted for today but I will remove that and re-post it tomorrow. So if you've already read the article titled The Force, you can skip tomorrow's blog.

13/11/2007 8:46 PM

Ice And Cold

It got down to -10C or about 14F last night and it's expected to go to -16C or about 3 degrees Fahrenheit tonight which is just a little Brrrr! It never got above freezing today in the shade and although frosty, it was a gloriously sunny day the whole day through.
The first thing I noticed besides the brilliant sunshine when I got up this morning was the amount of ice that formed on Nimpo Lake last night. It reached out quite a ways from our shore and the back bay was nearly completely frozen over. It always freezes first back there though because it gets little wind and is in the shade for a good part of the day at this time of year. The stuff in the front won't stay of course, because any little breeze or the warmth from the sun will knock it back, but Ice On is coming, that's for sure!
Sadly, our immature loon is still hanging around which means he's here at least two weeks later than he should be and he's still not a very large bird. It's not like he can't catch fish. I've got a picture of him getting one and he's pretty good at it. It's just that someone seems to have forgotten to tell him to go south for the winter and I'm getting a little concerned. I don't want to be like Frenchie.
Andy told me about this guy he knew years ago that was crazier than a bed bug and not an easy fellow to get on with. Andy and his cronies were doing some surveying and claim staking near this old coot's land and rather than run afoul of his contentious attitude, they used to take him goodies and coffee, and such. Kind of a bribe, to avoid looking down the wrong end of a rifle barrel, I guess. Apparently Frenchie rescued this loon from a nearby lake that had frozen over for the winter and brought it into his cabin. It often sat on the kitchen table and Andy said it cra....ped a lot! He said the stuff was all over the place, maybe because of what Frenchie was feeding the bird, or maybe they're always like that, but the cabin reeked as a result. Andy said you don't realize what a huge bird it really is until you see it confined within the walls of a small cabin, especially if it becomes agitated. Eventually he was able to pet it but the bird wasn't a particularly friendly one. Just as well, I guess, if it was going to be released back into the wild in the spring.
Much as I love loons, I'm afraid my hospitality would not extend to allowing one to deposit all over my house. I suppose if one did have to rescue a loon, the best bet would be to put it into a dog kennel and get it down into the Bella Coola Valley, the Okanagan, or Lower Mainland as soon as possible where the temperatures are warmer and its chances of surviving better. I wasn't aware that any migratory bird would miscue until Andy told me that story. So I guess we'll keep an eye out and make sure the little guy left here doesn't get stuck in the ice or end up starving. Of course rescuing a loon might not be as easy as it sounds. More likely it would beat you to death with its wings.
Continuing the RCMP Articles:
They had a bit on the news tonight about the video taken of the police that tasered the Polish Immigrant at the Vancouver Airport a little while back. Apparently the video has finally been returned by the police to the fellow that took it, and it will be released to the public tomorrow. The owner of the video did clarify some things on times and numbers and described the event. Where previously it had been reported that there were five police officers, there were actually only four, and where it had been said 24 seconds passed from the time the RCMP entered the door to the time the man was tasered, it was actually 35 seconds. Thus shedding a more favorable light on the police and their actions.....or not.
The owner of the video describes that the man seemed pleased to see police upon their entrance, put his hands up and began to back up. As he started to turn away from the police, he was tasered in the back. When he went down, the police jumped on him and attempted to taser him a second time while one office held the man down with his knee pressed into the man's neck, his face pushed into the floor until he went still. The police checked his pulse and discovered there was none. Apparently airport security could not be bothered to call their own paramedics which were less than two minutes away. Instead, police waited for an ambulance which arrived twelve minutes later. Even though trained in CPR, not one cop made any effort to revive the downed man and he was pronounced dead by ambulance personnel.
It just kind of gets worse, and worse, doesn't it? There is no question in my mind that a whole lot of people have a whole lot to answer for. I guess we'll know tomorrow after the video has actually been aired. For more detail on this incident, refer to last week's articles. In the meanwhile, apparently we don't have enough of our own police harassing us with roadblocks, the DOT were out in Anahim Lake today as well, and I think there were about five police and Department of Transportation officers on the roadblock near the Dutchman Restaurant today.
There was a time when there might have been reason for the DOT to come out this way once a month, because local RCMP had better things to do besides sit on roadblocks day in and day out. However, that's about all they seem to do now so I'm surprised DOT thinks it necessary to be out here too. Or maybe the thought on the matter is, "Oh, they want to complain about being over policed in Anahim Lake? Well, we'll just give them something to complain about!"
That's okay, Andy got a kick out of being stopped today. He drew the process of finding and showing his registration out for some few minutes as he sifted through paperwork on a number of trailers and such before getting around to his truck registration. Hopefully, he succeeded in wasting their time as much as they waste ours.
I think you'll see more and more quiet rebellion as time goes on, especially from people like us that run pretty legal. At the other end of the spectrum, however, some of the local business owners are quite pleased with the attention their establishments get, especially with break ins, which occur on a regular basis. Fortunately for the police, the last one this past week was pretty easy to solve. The alleged perp left his footprints in the snow which led right back to his residence.
It's nice when the police actually do concentrate on real crime solving, and I'm sure it's a break for them. When you have too many police in a small community, what do you do with your time? As was mentioned at the community meeting (see last week's articles at November Week One) there were only 80 'callouts' reported in a month. Do the math. That's less than three calls a day, divided between at least two or three RCMP Members. Many of those were drunks picked up sleeping it off in the woods or behind a building, and many of those...repeats. So how do you justify having six RCMP Members at the Anahim Lake Detachment? And who is paying for them? Guess!
12/11/2007 8:20 PM

Snowstorms And Power Outages

This year is starting to shape up to be like last November where we had one snowstorm after another. Yesterday was grim the entire day with fine flurries and dark grey skies. It started snowing in the early afternoon just about the time the neighbour and I decided to go for a walk. It wasn't too bad in the woods but was coming down hard enough out on the road that it was hard to even see your feet. Eventually the snow had built up to about eight inches by late last night by the time I went to bed. However, sometime during the night it started to warm up and by this morning it was raining and the snow was saturated. It had already compressed and melted down to 6 1/2 inches by this afternoon. I took the snowmobile out to break the walking trail again and while it was fine on the trail, I suspect we have enough snow off trail now that you could actually get stuck in some places.
We lost our electricity around 9:30 this morning and didn't get it back until 6:30 this evening, so today was pretty much shot when it came to getting work done on the computer. As a result, and as is usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short. But at least we did get our power back. Not so for many people throughout British Columbia. Apparently about 180,000 people lost their power in the last 24 hours and many in remote areas might not get it back until Wednesday. Since we're remote, then I guess we're darn lucky to get it back when we did, especially since the repairmen had to come from Williams Lake this time. Heckman Pass on the Bella Coola Hill is closed so our normal BC Hydro repairmen couldn't make it through. I don't know why the Hill is closed other than I assume a lot of snow fell there last night, but it might also have been slides. If the Hill was at all like the roof on our house last night, there would have been major snow and possibly rock slides. The temperature must have been just right because you would hear this great rumble and then the snow on one whole side of the roof would let go at a time.
A friend came in from Likely, east of Williams Lake today and said that the temperatures were quite high and there was no snow, but that there had been vicious winds, dropping a couple of trees on the road that he had to circle around. He did say that there was a lot more snow than even we got between Tatla Lake and Kleena Kleene. That's not unusual because Kleena Kleene sits at the end of a long mountain pass that funnels moister ocean air straight in from the Pacific.
Surprisingly, we actually got very little wind here but the rest of the province got hit pretty badly. When I called BC Hydro to report our power outage all I got was a recording listing all the regions throughout the province that had endured high winds and power outages and it pretty much indicated that you might as well get off the phone unless you had a line down or an electrical fire happening. We did get power back in time to see the news on the weather channel showing fallen trees on houses and cars throughout the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan.
Although high winds were expected, I don't think the weathermen were expecting this degree of damage or that many power outages.
I'm not sure what knocked our power out but I have a pretty good idea. There were several green saplings bent over the trail in the woods that had been pushed down by the heavy snow and I suspect that a heavily laden branch or tree brushed a power line on our road because it knocked out the fuse on the pole. But I understand there were several places on the line along the highway as well that the repairmen had to work on, whether broken line, a tree down, or the lines just touched from the weight of the snow. This is a bad time of year because it's warm enough for a large amount of snow to get too heavy for power lines or trees nearby. Once it gets colder, it should be less of a problem because the snow stays crisper. That shouldn't be a problem soon. I noticed that the temperature has dropped 5 degrees in just the last couple of hours and I think it's expected to stay cool for a couple of days.
From the looks of the satellite picture, we have at least a day if not two of clear, sunny weather because of high pressure system moving in. However, right behind it is another low, and though it's not packing the same punch as this one, there's one coming in from Alaska that looks like it's bringing high winds. I don't know if the two are going to meet but if they do, things are going to get awfully nasty.
I don't have the time tonight but if I can manage it, I'll be continuing the series on the RCMP this week. In the meanwhile, if you want to catch up on the articles dealing with that subject from last week, you'll find them at
November Week One.

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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!


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