Dear Editor:

In response to the article in the Merritt News, Dec. 29, 2011 “Elder’s ‘house’ divides LNIB again.”

You would think that by this time and age the oppression that was taught in the residential schools would be diminishing. It seems not so with the Interim Administrator, Arnie Narcisse, and Capital Works Manager, Hyrum Peterson, and the six councillors that are insisting that they continue to oppress and abuse the elders and the Band members of the Lower Nicola Indian Band.

The abuse, harrassment and bullying reminds us of the same mentality of the Indian Residential School that was inflicted upon us for years. Now we are getting the same treatment from people put into positions of authority by our own people.

We follow and support LNIB Bylaws and Rules and we support elders’ participation in ensuring these are followed. We have the right and freedom just as any other person to speak our opinions and to gather when we want to.

Our role of the ‘2007’ Elders group was to help other elders; to get them out and visiting with other elders; advocate for the disabled; teach culture and tradition – which we have actively participated in. This also includes politics, which we also have the right and freedom to express and support other elders.

We remind the council once again that the Elders’ Building was designated to us by motion in October 2009, moved by the late Councillor Yvonne Basil and seconded by Councillor Harold Joe and motion carried. The youth have their building designated to them and the infants and the soup kitchen also have buildings designated to them.

We don’t appreciate being spied on by council members taking photos of us as we enter the Elders’ Building. We are not trespassing as accused by Narcisse and Peterson. This is our building and by them breaking in and changing the locks at our building, they are the ones trespassing.

We Elders will not tolerate this abuse and bullying and oppression and we will continue to stand up for our rights and respect in the LNIB community. We are truly the keepers of the language, traditions and culture and we are trying to promote these but it seems Elders are no longer being recognized for their value.

If the past chief and councillors would have met with the Elders when the Elders asked them to, none of this would be happening in our community.

“That people will be inspired to live life to the fullest and not be cynical about politics, that they be inspired to make a difference within their communities, the country and the world.” (Jack Layton)

Gloria Moses, Charlotte Joe, Cecilia Sheena, Leonard Sterling