Monday, July 9, 2012

Safe trip to Toronto for Sam

On Saturday we had the opportunity to drive out to Kenora Ontario. Our friend Chickadee wanted to go and give her boy a ride home. It was a nice chance for us to visit and see the Ontario bush. Along the way we picked a hitchhiker named Sam.
Sam was very grateful for the ride, it was pretty hot out. Along the way we got to visit with Sam and learn of his journey back to Toronto. Sam is from Toronto. As we reached the outskirts of Kenora we came across the Walkers. "Leo Baskatawang's March 4 Justice, in which he is walking from Vancouver to Ottawa with a copy of the Indian Act chained to him, arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday." It was nice chance for Chickadee to stop and visit with the Walkers again. Chickadee hosted Walkers at her home in Winnipeg. So seeing the young men was a chance for her to stop and give encouragement and give hugs and good wishes. It is impressive to see such strong Spirits in those young men. I think a lot of people are strong like that; strong in their beliefs and convictions.

Getting back to Sam. It was a nice visit with Sam that we had. Sam is Indian. Not our kind of Indian but from Asia. He like many new people to the country believed that Canada's Indians get a lot of free stuff. That message is out there for sure. In any case we presented our views. Although we did temper our views on the actions of Canada towards the Indians here. We just told him about outstanding issues and the breaking of Treaties. In any case the story here is about Sam and his 'story'. Sam is a highway truck driver, you know, the big trucks. He has been on the road for some time and has not been routed back to Toronto. That is where the company, that employs him, is from and that is where Sam's family is living. Sam had no money and had not eaten in 3 days. He had not been paid for some time. The travel routes he was given were between cities in the western provinces and he had not gone home for some time, weeks I think. He stopped in Winnipeg to get the company to at least deposit some pay into his account. The company had told him days ago that it had done that. Sam tried to get some food for six dollars at some store and had no money in his account. The company said it was his bank's fault. Sam told the company he was not driving anymore, so the company called the cops and fired him. The cops came and took the keys for the truck. So Sam was hitchhiking home.

We had lots of advice to give to Sam; go to labour board, don't let those bastards get away with not paying you. Sam listened politely and told us what the situation was like. Sam is a landed immigrant and the company can make things hard on the immigrant. I asked him who the company was and Sam said "Indians" like him. The company does not pay properly. It will deposit pay and than put stop payment on cheques, according to Sam. If you complain they will call the police and say that you stole from the company and damaged property. You will lose the chance to work or lose chance to get citizenship, according to Sam.
We gave Sam a few bucks and wished him the best.

Feel bad for Sam. Hope he gets another job. Sam says he can speak seven languages is a heavy equipment mechanic and no longer likes Canada. His wife and daugther want him to stay in Canada. Sam is fed up with how employers treat workers. If you complain you get thrown in jail.

You know what happened to us in Kenora? I rear-ended a van. Yup, slid into the van at a stop light. The road was wet and a little downhill and I was driving too fast. I heard a scream as we bumped the van. Not sure who screamed. It might have been me, but not sure. The van driver was very good. He did not mind that there were two little screw dents on his bumper, caused from my license plate nuts. He said lets deal with it here. I asked Sam for a few bucks and gave to the van guy. Sam gave back half the money we had given him. I know Indian givers. So we took Sam for a cheap meal at Rotten Ronnies. Sam thanked us and the last we seen of Sam, he was standing on Highway 17 east of Kenora.

Cross Country Walker, Leo Baskatawang
Sam and Leo remind of us of a couple of things: it's hard out there & people do what they must for others. Both have a journey and both have reasons for their journey's. Sam wants to feed his family. Leo wants to free his family.


  1. Good writing .Have you thought about a book? Do it for Don and for all of us, our people need good writing. We need to get in touch with what’s important. My Grandmother would tell You-“You have a gift so a duty to use it”. Since one thanks for a good story with a story-hope You will smile (hitchhiking for hitchhiking=fair Indian trade): I spent a few days in a forest, and then emerged relaxed and happy just in time to get a ride. The driver was a private security officer and kept getting weirder with each mile. He was covered in cold sweat, silent plus a crazed look on his face and shortness of breadth. Well, I started considering my options and tried to cheer myself up: if the guy is a psycho, at least I ‘ll be able to try my brand new stun gun…When we arrived to town we were both really jumpy and the guy finally spoke. He told me the road in the forest is said to be haunted and since there was a great battle in the nearby forest many drivers said they’ve seen “Indian ghosts” there…he said he wasn’t sure if I was real…For my part I told him I was getting ready to stun him and we had a good laugh. My friends thought this experience was hilarious. These bastards call me to this day “Silaada the shape shifter”,”Silaada the freak”…Take care Ojibway and keep writing.

  2. Not sure if I have the stuff to be able to write a book. I don't edit or take time to ensure what I write makes sense. I just type it and look for the odd spelling mistake and that's it. I don't spend a lot of time on the blog posts. Although I do think about stuff during the evening but most times none of it is written. thank for you your kind words. Take care. Steve