column was published in the
May 26, 1999)
lead to school violence
By Leo Knight
visions of Littleton, Colorado, dancing in their minds,
Coquitlam RCMP took no chances last week when reports came
through of a young man with a gun at Terry Fox secondary school.
an abundance of caution, the Mounties secured the perimeter of
the school then ordered the building in total lock-down while
they painstakingly searched every part.
incident began, in reality, two days earlier when threats were
made to a teenage female student of the high school. The threats
were met with violence by friends of the girl who tracked down
the purveyor of the threats and gave him "what for."
following day, far from being chastened, the 19-year-old male
returned to the school, nearly ran down some kids in a crosswalk
and ultimately threatened another female student with a handgun
gently placed at her temple.
it was the reason for the threats and the violence that startled
many. The original girl was threatened over a drug debt owed.
Not for a bag of pot, but for crack cocaine.
the insidious scourge of American streets, long present on the
streets of the Downtown Eastside, had now made it to the burbs.
On the same day Vancouver police conducted another sweep of the
"skids" following the latest undercover "buy and
bust" operation. Thirty-three more warrants were issued for
the arrest of crack dealers on Hastings Street, virtually all of
them refugee claimants from Central America.
prevalence of crack cocaine on the streets of the Downtown
Eastside comes as no surprise. The latest announcement of the
arrest sweep caused barely a flicker of attention. We've seen it
all before. But the appearance of crack in the high schools of
Coquitlam should cause us all to sit up and pay attention. If
it's available at Terry Fox it's probably just as available at
Carson Graham or Handsworth or Sutherland or Sentinel.
in Coquitlam said they began seeing the transition in the
schools there as long as two years ago. Its usage gradually
built in the subsequent time.
quality of B.C. hydroponic marijuana has caused the price to
rise dramatically. But crack cocaine is cheap -- as little as
$10 a rock. It's easily within the financial reach of high
school kids. Worse, it is probably the most addictive of all
illicit substances available on the streets today.
Van Mounties say they haven't seen too much of the stuff in the
schools, yet. And "yet" would seem to be the operative
word. There are known crack houses in North Vancouver and with
the open markets of the skids just a SeaBus ride away, it won't
be long until Coquitlam's experiences are mirrored here.
Mackay-Dunn, a North Shore school trustee and, in his other
life, the staff sergeant who oversees policing on the Downtown
Eastside, says the police have seen kids from North Shore
schools on the so-called crack corners in the city.
says he is very concerned about the potential availability of
crack in our schools. He said the RCMP are watching and the
principals are being vigilant. "The principals are aware of
the danger and are doing what they can to stop it,"
say there's no drugs in our schools is wilful blindness. The
situation needs to be worked on before the problem becomes too
great," he concluded.
has joined forces with Reform MP Randy White and will be
speaking at an anti-drug rally in Abbotsford on May 27, at 6
p.m. at the Ag Rec Centre.
is trying to develop a national drug plan to fight drug abuse.
He is bringing out former Canadian boxing heavyweight champion,
George Chuvalo as the keynote speaker. Chuvalo lost three of his
sons to drug abuse and now is a fierce campaigner for the war on
Makah Indian Band in Washington state finally killed their whale
last week after much fanfare, much criticism and much bluster.
what struck me most was not the outrageous photograph of the
hunters dancing on the carcass of the marine behemoth, but
rather it was the television pictures of the members of the
Makah trying to pretend they were enjoying their repast.
those who didn't see the videotape, once the dead grey whale had
been towed ashore and butchered, a celebration of sorts was held
and the participants were all shown "eating" the whale
meat. Closer inspection showed the video to be little more than
propaganda. Those partaking in the feast were taking little tiny
pieces about the size of a pea and clearly having to make an
effort to get it down their necks.
doubt they would probably prefer the T-bones dished out at the
Makah would seem to be engaged in a public relations exercise to
convince the world they have the right to kill whales as part of
their tradition. I suspect the motive is little more than a
desire to capitalize on the huge market in Japan for such
delicacies. With the bulk of the civilized world stacked against
whaling, the Japanese market has been virtually starved, save
for the little harvested from Norwegian waters under the equally
suspicious "research" motivation.
grey whales were rescued from the brink of extinction not that
many years ago. Their species has not yet fully recovered. While
the taking of one whale a year by the Makah, if indeed that's
where it stops, doesn't mean much in terms of the ultimate
survival of the species, the potential for other coastal nations
to resume whaling is a real possibility if the trend grows to
other First Nations. How does the world say no to Iceland, for
example, with their long history and tradition of whaling dating
back centuries, if all coastal First Nations take up the hunt?
for the traditions of First Nations is admirable and to be
encouraged. But it is a mistake to let that respect be blind to
what is essentially destined to be a commercial enterprise.
I suspect that if the Japanese developed a taste for buffalo penis, the great tribes of the Plains would suddenly start claiming their traditional right to a buffalo hunt.