Yesterday The Sun Came Out

FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, August 15, 2002
Ordinarily, I and most other Saskatchewan folks spend a lot of time devoted to discussing the weather and in deference to the tradition I will mention that it rain almost all of yesterday, except for a few minutes around noon hour when the picture above was taken and it rained all night. Not a heavy rain just rain so that we got about 7/10ths of an inch which must bring us up to about four inches for this year, or about the same as you would expect in Saudi Arabia. This morning it was dribbling a little when I went for breakfast but was down to a mist when I was heading back home (right and below). It looks like the town has finished digging up 98th street.

School in la Ronge begins on Monday but the staff of Northern Lights School Division went back to work this morning.

Though the national news reporters want us to get excited about Jean Chretien and the fool Paul Martin, most of us turned our attention on coffee row to three extremely disturbing stories here in Saskatchewan.

Yesterday morning the radio news (
CBC) reported the death of a Moose Jaw teenage girl (sixteen years old) who died in custody. The report omitted the fact that was reported today, that she actually committed suicide with a torn bed sheet.

While I was taking that sun glistening cloud scene at the top of this page, the Nipawin detachment of the RCMP were sorting out some fifteen children who were taken to hospital after overdosing on perscriptive morphine medication, two are in hospital in Saskatoon.

The third story is just one step further into depression ,as the Saskatoon police department who are pretty sensitive about their conduct and well they should be, following the death squad activity of past years, are trying to figure out what has become of a twenty-three year old woman, who is described as being in the "sex trade" has been missing since May, right around the time another Saskatoon alleged "sex trade" worker bled to death in a bus shelter.
I would much rather tell you about a construction project or street repairs, but the social issues of 2002 just won't go away. Moose Jaw's police chief (below) explained to television news viewers how upset he and his staff were about the death of the girl and that they are going to rennovate those cells installing TV monitoring in them instead of just in the hallway, but he says there was nothing his staff could have done.

When a human being is taken into custody, the crown assumes responsiblity for that individual as that person's right to look after themselves has removed from them. The sixteen year old girl and a fourteen year old, had been alleged to have been involved in an assault on a younger girl and the sixteen year old had been in trouble with the law and was in breach of some undertaking. Today all that can be reported about her is that an autopsy is being performed.

We need to have a little refresher on Canadian law. A person under eighteen years of age is considered in Canada as a child, that is the reason this girl's name is not available, yet she is dead. She died while in custody. No excuse of any kind is acceptable.

Imagine, and I am certain everyone can easily see into the world of sixteen year old kid, a background of trouble with the law, being picked up facing more charges, terrified of her future loss of freedom and desperately alone. Taking her life was logical for her and a horrible condemnation of a society that would allow such a thing to occur. It is to easy to condemn the Moose Jaw police, it is to easy to condemn the legal and justice system, it is even to easy to blame Saskatchewan poverty and social conditions. The fact is and it really darkens a day to realise this, but its your fault and its my fault.

What kind of people let poverty exist, what kind of people have not figured out a way to care for the children of our society that they find themselves with the logical decision that ending their life is their only course of action?

There will be a lot of hand wringing and finger pointing over a party of eleven to fifteen year old kids in one of the greatest places in the world to live, Nipawin. Nipawin is a fabulous place, amazing scenery, gentle kind people, a post card on every corner. But Nipawin is also home to hundreds of people who have left their over crowded home reserves at Shoal Lake, Red Earth and Cumberland House. People who have to rely on not enough income to live and hopes and dreams like everyone else, only they all know that those hopes and dreams are for other people.

What would prompt a kid to try out a pill from a medicine cabinet? The answer is appallingly simple. A kid who has little future that they can see and with nothing to lose, why not try the unknown.

The last story is just bloody sordid and its hard to talk about. Most of us, in a polite society do not talk about prositution, we do not discuss the "sex trade" and we give lip service to sexual child abuse. I want you to think about it and think about it hard.

The circumstances in several Saskatchewan communities where drugs, gang activity and impossible poverty abound. People, beginning usually as children, trade the use and abuse of their body for a little money. The ugly reality is that this issue has virtually nothing to do with sex and everything to do with deprivation. If people could get some living off of selling an arm or a leg would we let that happen? We have adequate laws on the books dealing with sex and children, yet those laws are not enforced. People are allowed to purchase other people and the result is that people are being made into slaves in our province. They are bought and sold each night, they are rented and they are abused. Apparently some of them are killed.

All three of these stories are related. All three of them are the direct result of a society that has lost control of its quest for civilisation. In a family, we all do what we can to help each other and come to each other's aid in time of need. There are less than a million people in Saskatchewan, many well enough off that they can spend their winter in warm climate areas, many so poor that they sell their bodies to who ever will give them enough money for some form of dope, or alcohol, to help them forget what they are doing to themselves or is happening to them.

We the people of Saskatchewan must accept not a single excuse for the death of a sixteen year old Moose Jaw girl, not a single excuse must be uttered for the injury of fifteen Nipawin children and get off your ass and do something about the poverty in this province that drives countless children who become women of the "sex trade" eligible for murder.

Yesterday the sun came out, only for a brief while as the clouds of August swept over us once more. I can look at the sky, feel the rain and look forward to a fall and winter to come. Thousands and thousands of Saskatchewan people can never read this message as they have no access to the Internet and they will try to live out today and tomorrow. For them it doesn't matter if the sun comes out or not.

Timothy W. Shire