Sunday, September 6, 2009
George of Spain
I often talk with my acquaintance George around the Sobey's plaza where I have a part-time job. He left Spain unlawfully during the Franco regime, and together with teenage friends was rescued by French peasants from recapture by the Spanish border police.
Eventually he found his way to Northern Ontario and purchased a general store in one of the towns. Shortly thereafter some legislation prohibited public facilities from witholding services from aboriginals. George had no problem with this. All of his encounters with Indian people had been acceptable. He heard that the Provincial Police were bringing an extra contingent to town. This caused some alarm in the community, and was yet another slap in the face to the First Nations people.
On the Thursday before the effective weekend, the Band Chief came into George's store asking him for a moment. He regretted to advise that foul play was expected over the weekend from some of his people in light of this new liberty. He asked George if at all possible not to involve the police, but rather after the fact to let him know of any losses.
George hardly knew what to expect. On the Saturday the store was over-run with native visitors, many handling and mixing up the merchandise, appearing drunken in public and hastening out the front door without payment. George found people in unauthorized areas of the store trying out the products. He tried his best to be calm and cordial, remembering the promise of the Chief. He suspected that the loss would be overwhelming.
On Monday morning he attended the store and started the monumental task of clean-up. In came the Chief inquiring as to developments. He could see that George had gone through a real storm. He asked for the money figure on damage; promised to consult with the elders and return with the cash. Truly a noble leader in a difficult time.
One might ask the question whether the people of the land had even planned the
outburst, until first suspected and insulted by "white-eyes". And so it still goes with racial tension fifty years later.
George is in his eighties and is a cordial, dedicated, aware, self-sustaining citizen in his country of choice. It pained him to give me this account.
"God keep our land, glorious and free..."