In the early 1960s I was a major based at Air Defence Command (ADC) headquarters built on the SW side of the St. Hubert (Montreal suburb) airport. One August I was sent to Bird, Manitoba to relieve for 2 weeks, the CO of the Mid-Canada Line station. This electronic line was designed by McGill University to detect penetrating aircraft. Arriving at the railway station on the line leading to Churchill on Hudson Bay I was surprised by a pretty well-dressed Cree woman who, in welcoming passengers to Bird included the advice that she did not engage in sex. She had good reason, Too many white men sexually abuse native women. Days later members of my new staff invited me to share a responsibility they had accepted. Carrying axes and saws, we canoed across a river then hiked a mile through thick forest to the well-maintained shack of Prudence, a pretty Cree woman who had not been as prudent as her name implies. She was raising a large family of well-dressed children fathered by passing hunters. We then selected a few trees to cut up into logs for her woodpile. With a good vocabulary she served us cups of tea before we left.
In 1962 I was on a 13-month stint as Military Commander of the 500-mile-long stretch of the Cape Parry sector of the 3,000-mile-long Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line along the Arctic coast of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Our call sign was PIN so I was known as Pinhead with the rank of major.
Pin was built in 1955-57 consisting of 5 radar sites: a main station at Cape Parry with 2 satellite sites to the west and 2 east. There was a weekly flight from Winnipeg and an annual sealift. I had a staff of 5 RCAF and 2 USAF officers. The other 125 men were hired by Federal Electric Corporation (FEC) for 18-month tours of 54-hour work weeks after which they were flown to Winnipeg for 2 weeks paid holidays during which they could quit or reenlist. We also employed 6 Inuit men housing their families in 3 duplexes, the only family housing on base. Other families moved up from Paulatuk building from surplus FEC lumber a new village 4 miles south of us.
In December 1962 Jim Stephens from Scotland found many items missing while taking inventory of his Hudson Bay store so he called in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Three days later they flew in a constable who started a search of all Inuit dwellings, discovering some of them in the shack built by a new family. He arrested the husband, confining him to the room we had provided him in the long billets block.
That evening we had a film flown in from Winnipeg. As usual I drove my lone truck the 4 miles to the village to squeeze in as many Inuit as possible. The constable also brought his prisoner, walking him back to the billets after the show. Mounting the steps to the veranda surrounding the housing block the prisoner was ahead of the constable. On reaching the veranda he suddenly whirled, kicking the constable where it hurts the most, quickly disappearing into the night. It was now my responsibility. Calling to Bob Hornal, one of my officers, we found Jim Stephens to open his HBC store to borrow two shotguns.
We assumed the fugitive would head for the village so we quickly loaded my village passengers asking them to notify all villagers and drove to the village from where, with only moonlight to guide us, Bob and I spread out to begin a long, very cold search towards our base. It was -30F.
Over 2 hours of this I heard a low moan ahead of us. I called to Bob to cover me while I veered off in a large circle to come up on the moan from the rear, finding an exhausted, bleeding, and freezing man spread across a small mound of gravel. I shouted for Bob and we carried him to the HBC store where we and Jim stripped, washed, and redressed him with new warm clothing from HBC shelves. By this time the constable had recovered enough to take custody, this time handcuffing him, flying him to prison 3 days later. Of course the government provided accommodation and food for the family during his internment.
In the spring the circuit judge arrived to set up a formal trial using the Catholic Church and all the pomp and circumstance the old school demands including the wearing of a white wig. The verdict? The prison time already served was sufficient so, on the promise that he would never steal again, he was freed.
He and his family became real assets to the community.
Racial biases can be created everywhere. At Cape Parry the six Inuit we employed and housed in duplexes with indoor utilities kept them in excellent repair. Those who moved up from Paulatuk to build a new village of shacks had no electricity or plumbing so all winter used the great outdoors as toilets leaving a summer litter and stench forcing them to flee to tents, leaving a large area to avoid. This caused many newcomers from the south to adopt a lasting view that Inuit were an inferior species.
The village Inuit maintained dogs that were kept chained in 5 teams always ready to haul sleds. FEC did not want them free to roam around the station. I was warned to avoid the teams as they were vicious. Being skeptical I found that they craved love. I began having our kitchen staff save me their scraps of bone and flesh to take to the village, finding I could walk along the 5 lines of chained dogs, giving each of the 25 dogs a share. This became a routine. When they saw, or smelled, my truck coming the dogs would begin a loud welcoming. There were 5 young, unchained dogs, one of whom was my favourite, who would wander onto base. I was highly annoyed when the FEC chief had them shot, so for several weeks I ate my meals at the Inuit table rather than with him.
Another handicap is that Inuit, actually highly talented and whom we called Eskimos (eaters of raw flesh) were slow to form genuine friendships. Coming from a long heritage of solitary hunters whose children we took every September to June to fly to Catholic or Protestant boarding schools that used a southern curriculum. On graduation they were returned to their original homes, remote from southern employment.
A big help to me was Jessica Green, an 82-year-old woman from the village who soon recognized my attempts to befriend the natives. She told me “While you are on the DEW Line, I will be your Mother.” She had a small income selling to southern visitors items like ties, wallets, and dolls made from seal skins that were cured with human urine. To increase sales I joined a few member of my RCAF/USAF staff who purchased from the Inuit seal skins for $5 each, then fly them to Winnipeg for commercial curing, selling them back to Inuit women. We had frequent visiting groups of military brass, university professors, and business people to whom I gave briefings, always introducing Jessica and her seal-skin offerings. One university official asked her why she did not speak more English instead of Eskimo. She replied “If I were an English woman I would. I am an Eskimo woman.” Jessica loved her corncob pipe, well blackened from long use. My wife, Joan, mailed me six new ones for her. She was walking along the Arctic coast when I took the first to her, Delighted, she threw the one she was smoking well out into the ocean.
Jessica took a keen interest in politics. She kept reminding me of the approaching day for the federal election vote knowing I would be sent the box for the votes of all Cape Parry Canadians. It had snowed heavily and I could get my truck only half way to the village. I had to climb over several large drifts carrying the box to collect all the village votes. The villagers thanked Jessica and me for not having to walk to the station and back in deep snow to vote.
I had a busy military work schedule but considered it far more important to cement good inter-racial ties. At the other end of the age group was 5-year-old Renee Ruben. I made a habit of filling my parka pockets with oranges on my visits to the village. Seeing me coming she would rush out shouting “Squadron Leader George!” Giving me a hug she would extract an orange from my pocket and we would stroll across the tundra each peeling and eating an orange. She seldom spoke so I inferred she was mentally deficient,
Seeing a motor abandoned for the winter. I said “There is an outboard motor.” She replied “That is a kicker.” What a change! Realizing there was something she could teach me she erupted into informative talk which dominated our future walks as she was now an equal. She cherished the red plaid dress my wife sent her. In the spring I mentioned the kicker to Adam Ruben who advised he knew about it and would get it working as soon as sea ice had melted. It belonged to a schooner given to Father deHurtevant and was now beached in Paulatuk. Adam was a most likable 16-year-old boy who had several scattered girlfriends. Frequently he would catch a seal for his dog team and leave for a week or two to visit them all.
I was there when he started on the engine. Soon the ground was littered with nuts, bolts. and engine parts. Amazed, I uttered “Adam, if you get all that mess working again I will give you $1”. He kept cleaning, re-oiling, and re-assembling, finally trying a restart. It roared into life! Totally amazed I gave him $2 with which he bought cigars, smoking them as he walked around the village advertising his wealth.
Village homes were all crowded so for months I knocked when visiting then they all asked me to just walk in as I was considered a member of the family.
I also made many valued friends among FEC employees. Brilliant Oscar Gravitis from Latvia was special. He had just graduated from high school when the Soviets invaded, followed by Germans, then again by Soviets. Thousands of Latvians, including Oscar’s relatives, were sacrificed when they were forced by both sides to join hands in long lines to walk across fields, exploding mines. Oscar also was heavily shelled while driving munition trucks in active fighting areas.
Post war Oscar was employed by the Canadian Army that was well pleased with his work. When the time came to repatriate Europeans, Oscar had no desire to return to Soviet-ruled Latvia, so told the Canadians he was Dutch. His many friends arranged for him to join the Dutch who were emigrating to Canada where he accepted a job as a lumberjack, then with a radio -TV store in Hamilton, Ontario.
Seeing a newspaper FEC ad for bulldozer operators that paid more he went to Montreal where the hiring office was. The manager advised the last opening had just been filled and that the only current vacancies were for radicians. Oscar whooped: “I apply. Radician was my original trade!” She replied: “You must pass an exam which we will be giving in 4 days time, Oscar gleefully signed up for it.
Having no idea what a radician was he remained in the office talking to other officials, slowly learning
that radicians operated and maintained the radar domes on the DEW Line. He raced off to a book store, bought several books to study in his motel, then did well on the exam, was hired, and sent to Cape Parry where he watched radicians on shift, asking numerous questions before being assigned to a shift.
Amazingly soon Oscar was recognized as a leading radician and others from across the DEWLine would call him with problems. I had many long walks across the tundra with him as he photographed wild flowers, building an impressive library of Arctic flora. FEC moved him to their headquarters.
Although I did two tours in Personnel work, including one in RCAF HQ in Ottawa, I encountered only one case of anti-Black bias when a station refused to accept a Black individual I had sent them to fill a vacancy in their Personnel office, causing me to change his posting.
So, there was bias in the RCAF. I also learned to avoid the use of “negro” which had become a derogatory term. I was annoyed as I considered in my right to use such terms as Limey, Frog, Yank, Canuck Jerry, Fritz, Paddy as harmless polte terms.
In 1963 we were to experience more when we were transferred to Colorado, USA, and lived in a motel for several weeks while house hunting. There was a wide selection of well-kept housing areas and many attractions – an excellent location for a happy tour of duty, soon marred by two puzzling incidents. In one pleasant housing area a well-liked Army general who was serving at Pearl Harbor in 1941 when it was bombed advised “We have a Home Owners Association that does not permit negro families to establish homes here. While still in the motel one of our young daughters was walking alone on a nearby business street. As she passed a parked pick-up truck with two teenage black boys sitting in the back, the boys stood up to spit on her. Our new paradise has its flaws. Puzzled and scared with spit on her she ran back to the motel. I then realized there were no Blacks in the NORAD HQ unit to which I was assigned.
Now needing home care nurses, I have learned much from the excellent ones I have had. All are dedicated Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) who have been wounded by patients who become confused and violent. One Black couple, Latisha and Tony, served me well for months but were also US Army veterans so had priority for two better-paid Post Office jobs that opened up so they moved to Texas up to take them but still keep in touch.
My current group is led by Michele who has suffered much body-wide pain including a recent knee replacement with a second due after she recovers from this one.
Scarlett is one of the group. When ten years of age her gang of white friends challenged her to steal from a store a packet of chewing gum. She did so but was caught and turned over to the police. Taking her to a quiet area he lectured her on proper behaviour, finally asking “Do you think you did an honest thing?”. She expressed her remorse and was set free. This is in sharp contrast to the frequent harsher treatment of non-whites.
In 2019 she was in a car with Eric, her brother-in-law, a black person, driving. He had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting the car in front, stopped with hazard lights on. Ten minutes later a young blonde woman left her car shouting foul words at them, stopping when she saw a black driver. She raced back to her car. Scarlett followed her to ask her to pull off the busy road, which she did into a gas station. Scarlett heard her phone the police and her boyfriend, yelling to them that her life was in danger from a Black man.
They arrived at the same time and inspected both cars, finding only dust on both bumpers. The policeman said there was no damage, so he was leaving, suggesting they do the same. Scarlett said to the young woman you're in more danger with me than that gentle man.
Stephanie, another nurse, had an enduring wound at age 6. She and her 5-year-old niece were in a park with a 17 year-old white male baby sitter. Two black boys, 13 and 12, refused to share swing sets with the girls prompting the baby sitter to race in and violently beat up the two boys causing the girls to erupt in tears. He explained that as white girls they had priority over black boys. The girls told their parents and that boy never babysat for them again but spent much of his life in jail for acts of violence.
Her mother, born in Bowie, Texas, in 1943 recalls that Blacks were not allowed in her county after dark and often had to drive an extra 158 miles to avoid being caught there. In 1953 her family moved to Wichita Falls. A short time later the stigma was broken when a wealthy car dealer in Bowie hired two Black mechanics and housed them on his ranch well out in the country. It was not until 1960 after segregation was abolished that her mother met her first Black person in high school.
Stephanie has also worked at Lawton Correction Facility whose inmates included about 85 Comanche housed in racial isolation as they were claimed to be the worst of the inmates. The administration maintained that this isolation was due to behavior-related issues, disregarding their policies on the way inmates are correctly handled. Often they were restricted from normal daily routines and were not allowed to hold traditional ceremonies pertaining to their spiritual beliefs. They were forced into many unnecessary shake downs and tormented by many higher-ranking prison guards. The lower ranking prison guards that looked after them everyday would sometimes stand outside their cells and taunt them with their own culture making fun of them. This caused lots of frustration which led to many outburst of anger, that only helped the administration to further prove that they were a danger to themselves and others.
Stephanie has also worked at Lawton Correction Facility whose inmates included about 85 Comanche housed in racial isolation as they were claimed to be the worst of the inmates. Ofen they were denied normal daily routines and were not allowed to hold traditional ceremonies pertaining to their spiritual beliefs. They were forced into many unnecessary shake downs and tormented by many higher-ranking prison guards. The lower ranking prison guards that looked after them everyday would sometimes stand outside their cells and taunt them with their own culture making fun of them. This caused lots of frustration which led to many outburst of anger, that only helped the administration to further prove that they were a danger to themselves and others.
Rick, another CNA who values helping others well ahead of money provides me with thought-provoking discussions, mainly in history, quantum physics, and plants, He also has good data on alien visits and UFOs. He claims that, in today’s society, we are used and controlled by money seekers like the Rothschild clan, the Illuminati, Free Masons, all successful politicians, lawyers, military personnel, pharmaceutical, firms, news media owners who have used misinformation to increase profits, One example he uses is the billions spent to harm and outlaw the cheap and beneficial marijuana plant that can produce numerous items that the fossil fuel industry does at much higher costs and profits. He also exposes conspiracy theories as actual fact like 9/11 being a home-grown crime. Rick grew up frequently hearing the term ‘conspiracy theorist’, an occupation he thought ludicrous. But after 9/11 and the 9/11 truther movement began, he started uncovering for himself all the facts and evidence he could on alleged global conspiracies. He assessed the penal system while enduring two jail sentences for possessing small quantities of marijuana made from home-grown plants. He is 51 now, still doing research on his own. He has discovered that most of the things considered conspiracy theories have already been proven as fact! He is looking forward to the near future when honest legitimate research is allowed to be broadcast on mainstream media. A defining event in his life was growing up in a hostile environment as a result of the War on Drugs which he says is an extremely violent civil war, that has ripped apart the close binding fabric of the family unit. Pitting family members against each other in a Global Theater, aggravated by the corruption of Bankers, Government Officials, Communications Spy Systems, Corporate Criminals, Military Murderers, Judges, and Lawyers. are laughing all the way to the Bank to Worship their God of Money.
Rick has gone through many traumatic experiences encompassing his whole being: body, mind and spirit. He seeks wisdom and compassion to help create a new culture based on Love, Wisdom and Truth. Knowing that it is the Truth that will set us free!
Ye Olde Scribe