I know many of you might expect me to use this space to attack National Post columnist Christie Blatchford for her December 27 piece as full of bull… err horseshit (she’s the one who fertilized her prose with “horse manure,” after all). But, really, despite her ill-informed assertions and tortured logic, her column – inelegantly and inaccurately titled “Inevitable puffery and horse manure surrounds hunger strike while real Aboriginal problems forgotten” – didn’t cast a shadow over the sun for me.
What did cause the clouds to move in on my day was the loss of one of the friends of the Cree Nation. On December 20, Bill Rice died at 63 after battling cancer for many years.
Most Crees know nothing of Bill or the person he was. Way back when geologist Chris Covel took the first soil samples from the toxic mining zones around Oujé-Bougoumou, he passed on the samples to Bill. Normally, analyzing these samples would cost a fortune. But, after testing the first few samples, Bill was in shock. He was so concerned that he decided to donate his laboratory and time for free.
For this, I say thank you, Bill Rice. You will be missed as you have demonstrated the real meaning of humanity, which is something that you practiced and taught. I am sure that your teachings, values and knowledge have been passed on.
This is the true legacy of any human being. The lessons and teaching that were passed during one’s lifetime on help to keep that person’s spirit alive in the most valuable possible way. Bill Rice had a lot to give and perhaps the most important thing he gave me was his determination to do what was right because it was right. That is a gift without price.
I thank his wife Kathy and kids William, Robert and Virginia for knowing and sharing such an amazing man.
As for Christie Blatchford, I am sorry she never benefited from knowing someone like Bill Rice. He was someone who could have shown her the best of what a human being is capable of achieving in their lifetime, and who embodied this spirit in his being and actions.
Too often in our political discourse these days we are subjected to a rigid, soulless ideology that only builds a self-righteous shelter of ignorance. While Blatchford continues to build her shelter on a foundation of barely concealed hatred, my hope is that people like Bill Rice will continue to show this world that the concept of right and wrong is a stronger and healthier basis for the way we interact with one another.