Unity brings strength in hard times
The strike at the mine where my husband worked lasted fifteen months and during that time, the members used their time wisely.
There were 350 union members including miners, mechanics, machinists, scoop tram operators, pipe fitters, electricians, etc. If we included the wives in the count, the number would be even larger.
During the long months of the strike, we never became bored or afraid. Instead, the women’s auxiliary began planning various means of entertaining the families with children. We had family picnics at Miracle Beach, with everything provided such as hot dogs, hamburgers, pop, fruit and ice cream.
Miracle Beach is one of the most beautiful public beaches at Campbell River. One can sit at a picnic table by the ocean, and watch cruise ships sail by, or see huge container ships or seiners.
There was a local go-cart playground just down Island and the owner gave free day passes to families.
Midway through the strike, we planned a fundraising dance. Musicians from Vancouver as well as local singers, offered to help out. In all, there were five bands, each with their own musical instruments. We divided their time into two hour sessions, which gave us five hours of dance time at the Thunder Bird Hall. Great band sounds, and lots of people. The hall was filled to capacity.
After the dance, we counted the profits, then our treasurer deposited the money. We did very well —enough to carry us through several more months.
If you know anything about picket duty pay, you know that it is barely enough to get by so, fundraising as well as donations from other sources helped us immensely.
Christmas was not worrisome for us; the women’s auxiliary decided to plan a Christmas party. Members from the auxiliary went shopping for toys and gifts for children and young people. Then we wrapped the gifts, with age and gender marked on the gift packages.
We did our business mostly with the Weiwaikum tribe, from Campbell River and rented their Thunder Bird Hall for most occasions.
We invited the president of the union to be Santa for our Christmas party and he did really well; no one recognized him. Every child was surprised and happy to receive gifts that year. Later we had a Christmas dinner for all members.
During those times of no work, we did many things for our cause. We went to Vancouver on several buses, loaded with families and marched on the streets in front of the business district. We were non-violent, but very visible and very audible — our words were heard.
I share these memories with you not to brag about what I did, but to share these experiences of unity, and strength. Our unity gave us power to withstand the hardship that was meant to cripple the men so they would accept the concessions made by the company.
It takes more than one individual to succeed in such a huge endeavour. It takes many kind, giving people with hearts that care enough to give, when there is nothing but hope that eventually this would pass, which it did.
I believe God placed me in this situation to learn to trust Him completely, with everything. Through this, I am a woman who has been blessed beyond any expectation. I met people, both non-native and native.
I am thankful for the opportunity to learn good leadership skills from the very best of them. I learned being a leader means to include everyone’s voice and opinion then use them to bring good to everyone concerned.
I was the first native woman to chair an auxiliary with members who were non-native women. These women did not discriminate. We all looked the same inside and our heart beat was for the same goal — to help our husbands get through this strike.
Through the months of the strike, no one knew how much pain I suffered every day. At times it would be so bad, I would tell my husband Lloyd, “I don’t think I can make it to the food station today.” But, with prayer, my strength and energy would be renewed.
After the strike was over, and our men returned to work, I went to see our family doctor, who referred me to a specialist. After x-rays, he told me I needed a hip replacement right away. When the surgery was done, I had my mobility back. Before the surgery, I used a walking cane, but never in public or when we were at the food station.
When I look back to those times, I know for sure, my God, our Creator K’wlencuten, made it all possible. How else would I have made it through all that took place?
Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper: I will not be seized with alarm, I will not fear or dread or be terrified! What can man do to me?”
I know for sure, Jesus our Lord was with all of us, through those times, whether one believed in Him or not. Jesus says in Matthew chapter 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there Am I in their midst.”
Lloyd is a believer, our treasurer Ann (from Jamaica) was a believer, and I am a believer — that’s three.
You see, when God calls you to do a job for Him, He will make it possible for you to succeed. No obstacle will stand in your way. To our young native people, do not be afraid to step out into the unknown waters, when you feel deep within your heart and spirit that this is meant for you. You will not be alone on any journey that He calls you to take. Never mind what people may say, the last word that is most important is God’s Word. He will never forsake you or leave you without support. He never failed me or our membership.
From those experiences, I found the ocean, which is so deep and vast, and people who speak a different language than us, but have the same color of skin. The Weiwaikum Tribe of Campbell River, are great people who fish out of the ocean in their huge seiners. These people are hidden deep within our heart, both Lloyd and I have made friends of many people and of many races, I thank God for this every day.
As Always in Friendship.