I feel like I have to write this because it really bothers me.
I knew Raymond Silverfox for more than 20 years.
He was a very kind person who helped anyone he could.
He had a very abounding love for his daughter; she was his world.
Raymond drank for some years, but he later straightened out his life.
He became a great role model for his people and community members.
Raymond had his downfalls, just like every other human being.
I wanted to be there to give his siblings and daughter support, but I couldn’t afford to do so.
I have been listening to the radio and reading the newspapers about what has been said in court.
It broke my heart and hurt my spirit to learn how he was treated in jail. How the guards laughed at him and made these cruel remarks. They wrote him off as “just another drunk Indian” when, in fact, he was only celebrating his birthday!
Anyone in their right and stable mind would have given another person help and support.
If you see anyone in that kind of shape, or ill, you would help that person.
Raymond had vomited and soiled himself, then was left like that for hours.
People with those kinds of symptoms should be seen by a doctor.
Just because people have a disease (chronic illness), doesn’t mean they are any less human.
A severe alcoholic has a disease called alcoholism. We still have to treat them because they are ill. If someone had cancer, would you treat them the way Silverfox was treated?
Even dogs got treated better than he was. In the Yukon Quest, if the dog had diarrhea the vet would treat the animal and then it would be laid on straw.
If a person has diarrhea and vomiting and is lying in this mess, plus lying on a cold floor, surely that person would get pneumonia.
I just don’t know when people are going to realize that we are all human; we have different colour skin.
How long are First Nation people going to be treated like this?
How many First Nation people have been treated like this?
If we go back 20 years and make a list of all the brutalities from the RCMP and other organizations, how long would the list be?
Silverfox’s death could have been prevented, if he were helped and treated. His daughter could still have a father and the Silverfox family could still have their brother.
For many years now, we as First Nation people were treated with no respect; we were put through much damage through residential school and trouble with the law.
Silverfox’s basic human rights were violated. Where is the human rights legislation in all this?
His family and our people deserve more than an apology.
I heard a remark from one of our well-respected elders. He said, “They’re still trying to get rid of us First Nation people, from the smallpox blanket to residential school, and now wouldn’t help when we are that ill in jail, but we’re still here.”
Charlene McGinty Silverfox
Selkirk First Nation