A walkathon sponsored by the Tsartlip Indians council in Brentwood on Aug. 21 will give Indians and their “white brothers” a chance to demonstrate active concern for improvement of reserve conditions.
Dave Bartleman, new chief of the Tsartlip band, announced walkathon plans at a council meeting Thursday. He said the money collected will probably be spent on a community headquarters, the building of which will provide employment and a place to display Indian handicraft.
Young people from other reserves have already shown support for the 20-mile walk which will start from Tsartlip campsite and wind through Central and North Saanich.
Organizers Simon Smith and Tom Sampson are typical of the business-like Tsartlip band which has already constructed a public campsite and boat launch ramp which last year attracted 17,000 visitors.
“Life for us North American Indians on the reservation is no picnic,” said Sampson.
In an appeal for walkathon support he predicted that visitors to Indian homes would be greatly disturbed at the “squalor, poverty and lack of dignity suffered by this community of Canadian citizens.”
Reasons for these “inhumanities” are profound, according to Sampson. “Our people want to retain the cultures of our inheritance and yet we have to live a life of compromise with the progressive society,” he said.
North American Indians themselves are partly to blame for wanting to retain the old way and the new Canadians are also to blame, said Sampson, for showing Indians the luxuries of a modern society “which we cannot afford.”
Walkathon forms may be obtained from the campsite office or by writing to Tsartlip band council, box 53, Brentwood Bay. There is no age limit but those under 16 are asked to obtain signed parental consent. All walkers should provide their own refreshment.