Transcript: Thomas King: The Influence of Indigenous Art | Jul 09, 2021

An animated slate reads "The Agenda in the Summer."

A female announcer says THE AGENDA IN THE SUMMER WITH NAM KIWANUKA IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH GENEROUS PHILANTHROPIC CONTRIBUTIONS FROM VIEWERS LIKE YOU. THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING TVO'S JOURNALISM.

Nam stands in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a mint green blazer over a black shirt, and a golden pendant necklace.

A wall screen behind her reads "The Agenda in the Summer."

Nam says IT CAN BE HARD TO FACE THE FACTS OF HOW CANADA HAS TREATED INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. IT CAN ALSO ECLIPSE THE DEPTH AND RICHNESS OF INDIGENOUS CULTURE. I'M NAM KIWANUKA. TONIGHT, TO WRAP OUR FIRST WEEK FEATURING CONVERSATIONS FROM OUR ARCHIVES, WE RETURN TO THE INSIGHTS OF WRITER AND THINKER THOMAS KING, ON HOW ARTS OPENS A DIFFERENT PATH FOR EXPRESSION AND UNDERSTANDING. ALSO, WE'LL CHECK IN WITH OUR ONTARIO HUBS TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE RESTORATION OF THE SILVER ISLET GENERAL STORE.

Music plays as an animated slate reads "The Agenda in the Summer."

Nam says AFTER HIS NOVEL THE BACK OF THE TURTLE CAME OUT, HOST PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY SPOKE TO AUTHOR THOMAS KING IN THE SUMMER OF 2015. KING IS NOTED AS ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WRITERS AND SCHOLARS OF HIS GENERATION. A REMINDER THAT 2015, A COMMONLY ACCEPTED TERM FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WAS ABORIGINAL, SO YOU WILL HEAR THAT TERM IN THIS CONVERSATION. LAST YEAR, THOMAS KING WAS AWARDED THE 2021 STEPHEN LEACOCK MEDAL FOR HUMOUR. HERE IS PIYA'S CONVERSATION WITH HIM FROM 2015.

An animated slate reads "The Agenda in the Summer."

In a clip, Piya and Thomas sit in the studio facing each other. Thomas is in his sixties with short thick grey hair. He's wearing a black T-shirt, black jacket and a pair of glasses. Piya is in her forties, and has dark brown, slightly wavy hair in a bob cut. She wears a cream top and a bright purple blazer.

She says SOME AUTHORS WOULD SET THIS KIND OF NOVEL IN A FUTURISTIC, MAYBE SORT OF A DYSTOPIAN, A POST-APOLYP... APO... APOLO... I CAN'T SAY THAT WORD. APO... APO...

Thomas says APOCALYPTIC. THANK YOU, SETTING. THANK YOU.

(THOMAS LAUGHING)

Piya says CHOOSE WORDS BETTER, PIYA... TO TALK ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ISSUES.

Thomas says YEAH.

Piya says UM, I DON'T KNOW, THE ROAD, CORMAC MCCARTHY'S THE ROAD, IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT.

Thomas says YEAH.

Piya says WHY'D YOU WANT TO SET YOUR NOVEL IN PRESENT DAY?

Thomas says BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE TO RUN TO THE FUTURE TO FIND APOCALYPTIC FICTION.

Piya says THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME AGAIN.

Thomas says YES, YEAH.

(LAUGHING)

The caption changes to "Thomas King. Author of The back of the turtle." Then, it changes again to "An indigenous Renaissance? Originally aired July 21, 2015."

Thomas says SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW COULD BE HAPPENING IN THE FUTURE. I DON'T HAVE TO GO TO THE FUTURE TO FIND THOSE THINGS. THEY COME TO ME. SO, IT'S... IT'S PRETTY EASY. AND BESIDES, IF I TRY TO CREATE A FUTURE, I DON'T KNOW HOW I WOULD DO THAT. ONE OF MY... MY OLDEST BOY IS A SCIENCE FICTION FAN, AND HE'S TOLD ME I SHOULD WRITE SOME SCIENCE FICTION. IT SELLS REALLY WELL. YOU TURN IT INTO MOVIES. YOU MAKE A MILLION DOLLARS.

(PIYA LAUGHING)

Thomas says BUT, I DON'T KNOW WHAT A WORLD WOULD LOOK LIKE, AND THIS ONE SCARES ME ENOUGH ALREADY. I DON'T HAVE TO GO TO THE FUTURE TO WORRY MYSELF ANY MORE THAN I DO.

Piya says AND AS YOU SET IT IN THE PRESENT DAY, AND WE TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS YESTERDAY AS WELL, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE INTENTION IN TELLING ME WHAT TO THINK, BUT WERE YOU TRYING TO DRAW ANY PARALLELS TO A SPECIFIC, RECENT DISASTER? LIKE, IN YOUR MIND, WERE YOU LIKE, "I WANNA TELL A STORY ABOUT THIS, BUT FICTIONALIZE IT TO SOME EXTENT"?

Thomas says NOT SO MUCH. I MEAN, THOSE KINDS OF EVENTS ARE ALL AROUND ME. I THINK I, THE OTHER DAY, MENTIONED GRASSY NARROWS AND THE BP OIL SPILL, AND THE EXXON VALDEZ, AND THE PROBLEM THAT I THINK IS COMING WITH THE TAR SANDS OUT IN ALBERTA. SO I THINK THESE THINGS FLOAT AROUND ME ALL THE TIME. I DON'T HAVE TO GO LOOKING FOR THEM. THEY ARRIVE ON MY DOORSTEP, AND THEN THEY DISAPPEAR JUST AS QUICKLY, SO IT'S... YEAH, I DON'T KNOW. IT'S... I HAVE THAT AVAILABLE AS STORYTELLING MATERIAL, AND SO I SIMPLY USE IT.

Piya says AND AS THEY ARRIVE ON YOUR DOORSTEP, THERE IS NO HUMOUR IN THESE THINGS WHEN THEY HAPPEN, RIGHT?

Thomas says NO.

Piya says AND YET YOU TAKE THE APPROACH OF USING SATIRE AND HUMOUR.

Thomas says YEAH, I THINK IN PART, I'VE ALWAYS SAID THAT HUMOUR WAS AN ABORIGINAL SURVIVAL STRATEGY, TO LOOK AT SOMETHING AND FIND THE HUMOUR IN IT, OR FIND THE SATIRE IN IT, TO FIND THAT MOMENT WHERE IT'S SO LUDICROUS AND SO AWFUL THAT IT ACTUALLY IS KIND OF FUNNY.

Piya says MM.

Thomas says AND I THINK WE NEED THAT. WHEN I WRITE, IF I'M WRITING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT'S VERY, VERY TRAGIC, I ALWAYS TRY TO PUT SOME HUMOUR IN IT, BECAUSE I THINK THAT A LITTLE BIT OF HUMOUR DEEPENS THE TRAGEDY. AND I THINK A LITTLE BIT OF TRAGEDY SHARPENS THE HUMOUR.

Piya says YOU SAY THIS IS... WHAT DID YOU SAY? "AN ABORIGINAL, SORT OF, COPING STRATEGY." I MEAN, WHERE DOES THAT SORT OF EMERGE FROM?

Thomas says WELL, I MEAN, YOU'VE GOT... YOU'VE GOT 400 YEARS OF EUROPEANS HAVING AT NATIVE PEOPLE IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. CERTAINLY WITH MY TRIBE. WE WERE REMOVED FROM GEORGIA AND THE CAROLINAS AND JUST SHIPPED OFF TO WHAT WAS THEN INDIAN TERRITORY, WHAT IS NOW OKLAHOMA. AND WE LOST ABOUT 25 PERCENT OF OUR POPULATION ON THOSE FORCED MARCHES THAT TOOK US OUT THERE, LOST OUR HOMELAND BASICALLY.

Piya says IF HUMOUR IS SORT OF THIS COPING MECHANISM THAT HAS LONG EXISTED TO DEAL WITH TRAGEDY, AND COLONIALISM AND, YOU KNOW, DISASTER...

Thomas says ALL THOSE NASTY ISMS.

Piya says ALL THOSE NASTY ISMS, YEAH. I WONDER, BECAUSE WE SEE THIS WITH A LOT OF ABORIGINAL FIRST NATIONS ARTISTS, THAT THEY TALK ABOUT THE STORIES AND THESE CALAMITIES THAT DESCENDED UPON THEM. AND YET, THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE AND THERE IS ALWAYS OPTIMISM. LET ME ASK YOU THIS, THOMAS. DO YOU THINK THAT, IF YOU WERE, IF YOU, YOU KNOW, CAME OUT SORT OF ANGRY, LIKE AN ANGRY ABORIGINAL WRITER, DO YOU THINK YOU'D BE TAKEN LESS SERIOUSLY? DIFFERENTLY?

Thomas says WELL, AS A MATTER OF FACT, I WAS THAT EARLY ON IN MY CAREER, NOT AS A WRITER, BUT AS AN ACTIVIST. AND I WOULD GO ON TELEVISION AND RADIO, JUST, YOU KNOW, BANGING MY FIST DOWN, GETTING REALLY ANGRY. I WAS IN, UH... I WAS IN CHICO, CALIFORNIA, AND THERE WAS A MOHAWK GUY AND MYSELF WHO STARTED THE FIRST NATIVE ORGANIZATION ON THAT CAMPUS. AND WE HAD SOME KIND OF AN EVENT WHERE THERE WAS MYSELF AND... AND RICHARD GLAZAR, AND THEN TWO PEOPLE FROM THE BIA, THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS IN THE STATES. AND WE WERE ON A PANEL, AND WE DID OUR BIT WHICH WAS FAIRLY ANGRY. I DON'T KNOW IF RICHARD WAS ACTUALLY THERE, BUT I DID MY BIT. I WAS VERY, VERY ANGRY. AND THE TWO BIA PEOPLE PUT UP THEIR PIE CHARTS AND THEIR GRAPHS TO SHOW HOW THINGS HAD GOTTEN BETTER FOR NATIVE PEOPLE. AND AFTERWARDS, AND I HAD DONE THIS FOR A WHILE, THIS KIND OF SHTICK THAT I DID. AND THEN AFTERWARDS WE CAME OFF THE STAGE. AND THE WOMAN WHO HAD INVITED US THERE, THE TWO BIA GUYS CAME OFF THE STAGE FIRST, AND SO SHE SHOOK THEIR HAND AND HANDED THEM AN ENVELOPE. AND SHOOK THEIR HAND AND HANDED THEM AN ENVELOPE. AND I TURNED TO RICHARD AND I SAID, "HEY, YOU KNOW, LOOK AT THAT." YOU KNOW? I KNEW WHAT THAT WAS. THAT WAS AN HONORARIUM CHEQUE. SO WE GET THERE AND SHE SHAKES OUR HANDS, BUT NO ENVELOPES, AND I SAID, YOU KNOW, I SAID, "WAIT A MINUTE." I SAID, "WHAT WAS IN THE ENVELOPE YOU GAVE THE TWO BIA GUYS?" AND SHE SAYS, "WELL, THAT WAS AN HONORARIUM." AND I SAID, "WELL, WHERE'S OURS? AND SHE SAYS, "WELL... " AND SHE WAS EMBARRASSED. SHE SAYS, "WELL, AFTER ALL, THEY'RE THE EXPERTS." AND I SAID, "WHAT ARE WE, THE ENTERTAINMENT? AND THAT'S WHAT I WAS. WHEN I WAS RANTING AND RAVING AND, YOU KNOW, POUNDING THE TABLE AND BEING THAT SORT OF, YOU KNOW, HARDCORE ACTIVIST WITH JUST ONE... ONE NOTE, YOU KNOW, WHICH WAS ANGRY, PEOPLE WERE DISMISSING ME. BUT THEY WANTED TO COME TO SEE THE ANGRY INDIAN, YOU KNOW? WATCH HIM SHOUT, WATCH HIM JUMP AROUND, YOU KNOW, FILM AT 11, KIND OF THING. AND I LEARNED VERY EARLY ON THAT I DID NOT WANT TO BE ENTERTAINMENT, THAT I WANTED TO GET TO PEOPLE. AND ONE OF THE WAYS TO DO THAT WAS THROUGH HUMOUR, BECAUSE IF YOU WERE HUMOROUS, THEY'D LET YOU IN. AND BY THE TIME THEY DISCOVERED THAT THAT WAS A REALLY BAD IDEA, IT WAS MUCH TOO LATE.

(PIYA CHUCKLING)

Thomas says IT WAS SORT OF, LIKE, GETTING VERY CLOSE AND SORT OF NICKING PEOPLE. SO, IT'S EASIER TO TALK ABOUT SERIOUS THINGS IF YOU CAN... IF YOU CAN ADD A LITTLE BIT OF HUMOUR IN THERE TO MAKE IT MORE PALATABLE. BUT IF YOU'RE JUST IN THEIR FACE, YOU KNOW, 24-7, WHACK, WHACK, WHACK, WHACK, I HAVEN'T SEEN WHERE THAT DOES A LOT TO CHANGE MINDS.

Piya says IN TERMS OF BROADLY CULTURALLY AS AN ACTIVIST, OR IS THERE A DISTINCTION IF YOU'RE AN ANGRY INDIAN VERSUS AN ANGRY SOMETHING ELSE?

Thomas says NO, I THINK IT'S... I THINK IT'S ANGRY ANYTHING. AS I LOOK TO SEE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT PARTICULAR ISSUES, EVERYTHING FROM CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, TO ENERGY EXTRACTION, TO THE WAY IN WHICH CORPORATIONS MANAGE THEIR BUSINESS, THE G8 SUMMIT PROTEST, I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT THAT REALLY HARD-CORE ANGER, UH, DOESN'T... I THINK IT TURNS PEOPLE OFF IN THE END. I THINK IT TURNS THE GENERAL POPULATION OFF. I'M NOT SURE ABOUT THAT, BUT JUST AS I WATCH IT AND WATCH PEOPLES' REACTION TO THIS. UH, I MEAN, WHEN THE G8 PROTESTS WERE UP, THE CONCERN WAS OVER PROPERTY. MY GOD, OF ALL THE ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT IN THAT WHOLE DEBATE! PROPERTY, PRIVATE PROPERTY, WASN'T GOING TO BE INJURED. YOU KNOW, THE WORLD IS PLUMMETING TOWARDS SOME KIND OF AN ARMAGEDDON AND THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT PROPERTY DAMAGE. BUT THERE IT IS. THAT'S THE NORTH AMERICAN PARADIGM.

The caption changes to "A new momentum."

Piya says I WANNA READ YOU SOMETHING. IT WAS JEFF SIMPSON, A GLOBE AND MAIL COLUMNIST, WROTE AN OP-ED, SPRING, ABOUT THE STATE OF RELATIONS BETWEEN FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE AND THE REST OF CANADA. IT'S A BIT OF A LENGTHY QUOTE, SO JUST BEAR WITH ME HERE.

Thomas says SURE.

Piya says HERE'S WHAT JEFF SIMPSON WROTE, OKAY.

A quote appears on screen under the title "Is self-government possible? It reads "Statistics Canada told us, following its 2006 survey, that there were 612 bands and more than 2,600 reserves. People have been voting with their feet, as they say, since Stats Can estimates that only 40 percent of First Nations people live on reserve, a share that has been slowly dropping for some time. More than 60 percent of these bands – or 'nations' as they choose to call themselves – have fewer than 1,000 people. Given the demographic, it is reasonable to ask whether 'nations' of fewer than 1,000 people is an oxymoron. It is certainly a rhetorically powerful idea, but in reality what does it mean? On some reserves I have visited, I have asked myself: Could a group of 500 or 700 PhDs make this territory economically viable and deliver services expected by a self-governing group? Quote by Jeffrey Simpson, www.mcdonaldlaurier.ca, April 8, 2015.

Piya says THAT'S WHAT JEFF SIMPSON WROTE IN APRIL OF THIS YEAR.I WANT TO GET YOUR THOUGHTS, THOMAS KING. IS THE ABORIGINAL POPULATION, AS JEFFREY SIMPSON MIGHT SUGGEST, TOO SMALL TO BE VIABLE, TO BE SELF-GOVERNING?

The caption changes to "Nation to nation."

Thomas says MM-HM, WELL, WE'VE GOTTA BACK UP TO SOME OF THE ASSUMPTIONS THAT ARE A PART OF THAT. ONE IS THAT THAT IGNORES THE KIND OF DESTRUCTION THAT CANADIAN GOVERNMENTS AND US GOVERNMENTS HAVE WREAKED ON NATIVE PEOPLE TO BEGIN WITH. CERTAINLY WE WERE NATIONS. AND WE'VE BEEN SLOWLY STARVED OUT OF EXISTENCE. WE'VE BEEN PUSHED OFF THE RESERVES. THE RESERVES THEMSELVES HAVE BEEN STRANGLED. IT'S BEEN... IF YOU LOOKED AT IT AS A BUSINESS PLAN, IT'S A PRETTY CRAPPY BUSINESS PLAN. THE LITTLE LINE WOULD GO JUST RIGHT ON DOWN TO THE BOTTOM THERE. NOW, WE'VE TRIED TO STOP THAT FROM HAPPENING. THE FACT THAT WE'RE LOSING POPULATION ON THE RESERVE ISN'T THAT THE RESERVES AREN'T VIABLE. IT'S THE PROBLEM THAT THE RESERVES HAVE TO BE ECONOMICALLY VIABLE AND THE GOVERNMENT, EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, HAS TRIED TO STOP THAT FROM HAPPENING. SO, ARE THEY NATIONS? WELL, HERE'S THE THING ABOUT SOVEREIGNTY AND NATIONHOOD, IS YOU TAKE THAT ON YOURSELF. SOMEBODY ELSE DOESN'T DO IT FOR YOU. I DON'T COME ALONG AND SAY TO THE MOHAWK, FOR INSTANCE, "YOU'RE A NATION. YOU'RE A SOVEREIGN NATION, OR YOU'RE NOT." THE MOHAWK TAKE THAT ON FOR THEMSELVES. WHETHER THEY'RE 5,000 PEOPLE, 50,000 PEOPLE, OR 500 PEOPLE, THAT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU DO AS A GROUP.

The caption changes to "Reconciliation."

Piya says WE'RE IN 2015, AND I'M WONDERING, THOMAS KING. I MEAN, DO YOU THINK WE'VE GOTTEN ANY WISER OVER THE YEARS ABOUT HOW WE APPROACH THESE CHALLENGES AND THESE MISUNDERSTANDINGS?

Thomas says YEAH, I HAD A... I WROTE A... I WRITE POETRY. NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT THIS. ONE OF THE LINES FROM ONE OF MY POEMS WAS, "TELL ME WHO IS LEFT TO HATE. SURELY THERE IS SOMEONE NEW SOMEONE MISSED THE FIRST TIME THROUGH." AND I LOOK AT CANADA AND THE US AND I CHUCKLE WHEN RACISM COMES UP AS A TOPIC, BECAUSE IT'S KIND OF A REVOLVING THING. RIGHT NOW, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF THAT SOCIAL-POLITICAL CANNON ARE MUSLIMS AND ANYBODY... BROWN PEOPLE WITH BEARDS. BUT, IN MY LIFETIME, THAT CANNON'S BEEN AIMED AT BLACKS, AT ASIANS, AT LATINOS, AT NATIVE PEOPLE, AT GAYS. CAN YOU SPELL INDIANA AND ARKANSAS? AT THE DISABLED. WE SEEM TO HAVE TO HAVE SOMEBODY THAT WE DISLIKE.

Piya says LET'S TALK ABOUT RECONCILIATION.

Thomas says OKAY.

Piya says OKAY. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU, AND IS IT POSSIBLE BETWEEN NON-ABORIGINAL PEOPLE AND ABORIGINAL PEOPLE?

Thomas says I-I-I DON'T KNOW IF I BELIEVE IN THE CONCEPT OF RECONCILIATION AS IT PLAYS OUT IN THE MEDIA. WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR IS A MORE, WHAT THEY USED TO CALL "A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD," FOR ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN NORTH AMERICA. I WOULD LIKE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS TO GET OFF THE BACKS OF THE BANDS. THAT... THAT GREAT JOKE ABOUT WHEN IDLE NO MORE WAS UP AND RUNNING AND THE FIRST THING THEY DID WAS TO BEGIN LOOKING AT SOME OF THE CHIEFS' SALARIES AND THEIR EXPENSE ACCOUNTS, WHEN OTTAWA WAS WALLOWING IN... IN PORK BELLY, WHAT WE USED TO CALL "PORK BELLY IMAGINATIONS." I WOULD PREFER TO MOVE THE CONVERSATION FROM RECONCILIATION TO, YOU KNOW: HOW CAN WE MAKE RESERVE LAND MORE VIABLE FOR NATIVE PEOPLE? HOW CAN WE SUPPORT THOSE GROUPS, THE VARIOUS BANDS? YOU KNOW, HOW CAN WE START TO HELP GET ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GOING ON SOME OF THE RESERVES? THAT WILL GO FURTHER TO HELPING ABORIGINAL PEOPLE THAN SPENDING A LOT OF TIME ON RECONCILIATION. BECAUSE, QUITE FRANKLY, SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WERE DONE TO ABORIGINAL PEOPLE ARE UNFORGIVABLE. AND I THINK THEY'RE NOT GONNA BE FORGIVEN, PARTICULARLY. AND WE'RE JUST GONNA HAVE TO LIVE WITH THAT AND MOVE BEYOND. THERE'S THIS NOTION THAT IF YOU SAY YOU'RE SORRY, THEN THINGS ARE ALL RIGHT. BUT THERE ARE SOME... THERE ARE SOME INSULTS THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU JUST CAN'T SAY "I'M SORRY" AND MOVE PAST. I THINK THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE SEEING. I THINK NATIVE PEOPLE ARE SAYING, "OKAY, LET'S SEE IF WE CAN'T GET TOGETHER, BUT WE'RE NOT GONNA FORGET THAT. WE'RE NOT GONNA FORGET WHAT WAS DONE TO OUR GRANDPARENTS AND OUR PARENTS. WE'RE NOT GONNA FORGET THE KIND OF EFFECTS THAT IT'S HAD ON US. AND WE'RE GONNA TO TRY TO WORK AROUND IT, BUT DON'T EXPECT WE'RE GONNA STAND UP AT SOME POINT IN TIME AND SAY, 'OKAY, YOU KNOW, WE LOVE YOU. LET'S... LET'S GET MOVING.'"

Piya says IT'S A PRETTY DIFFICULT, UM, POINT TO MAKE, THOUGH, THAT WE'RE SORT OF...

Thomas says WELL, I MEAN, I... THAT'S ME, OKAY? PROBABLY YOU CAN...

Piya says I MEAN, IT'S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO HEAR, TO SAY, IT'S SORT OF INTRACTABLE FOREVER, IN A WAY.

Thomas says WELL, I THINK THAT... I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S FOREVER, BUT, IF YOU CONTINUE TO DO THE SAME THINGS... I MEAN, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I POINT OUT IN THE INCONVENIENT INDIAN IS THAT THE HISTORY THAT WE LIVED WITH FOR 500 YEARS IS THE SAME HISTORY THAT WE HAVE TODAY, THAT THE POLICIES THAT WERE BROUGHT AND PUT IN PLACE IN THE 1700'S, THE 1800'S, THE 1900'S, ARE THE SAME POLICIES THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN PLACE. THEY LOOK A LITTLE DIFFERENT. WE'VE CHANGED THEM AROUND SOMEWHAT, BUT THE BASIC ATTITUDES ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. IT WAS ONE OF THE SURPRISES THAT I FOUND OUT WHEN I WROTE THE BOOK. WAS THAT THAT HISTORY THAT I THOUGHT WAS IN THE PAST REALLY WAS RIGHT HERE WITH US IN THE PRESENT. AND THAT HASN'T CHANGED. UNTIL THAT CHANGES, THERE CAN BE NO RECONCILIATION. I DON'T THINK.

Piya says THANK YOU. YOU KEPT SAYING YOU'RE A HERMIT. I'M GLAD YOU LEFT YOUR HERMIT KINGDOM AND CAME TO TALK TO ME.

Thomas says YEAH, NOW I'LL RUN BACK TO IT.

(PIYA LAUGHING)

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis. Follow: @ColinEllis81."

Piya says I APPRECIATE IT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Thomas says PLEASURE.

The clip ends and another clip plays.

Jeyan sits in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a gray suit and shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Building on the past in silver islet. Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

A wall screen behind him reads "Ontario Hubs."

Jeyan says IF SLEEPING GIANT PROVINCIAL PARK IS ON YOUR TO-DO LIST, AS AN ONTARIAN STAY-CATION THIS YEAR, YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS THE NEWLY RESTORED LOCAL HUB KNOWN AS THE SILVER ISLET GENERAL STORE. OUR NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO HUBS JOURNALIST CHARNEL ANDERSON VISITED AND SHE JOINS US NOW FROM RED ROCK, ON THE NORTH SHORE OF LAKE SUPERIOR, WITH DETAILS.

Charnel is in her twenties, with mid-parted straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a red shirt.

Jeyan continues HEY, CHARNEL.

Charnel says HI, JEYAN.

Jeyan says ALL RIGHT, SO CAN YOU GIVE US AN IDEA OF WHERE SILVER ISLET IS AND WHAT IT'S KNOWN FOR.

A satellite view of Canada pops up highlighting the location of Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Toronto. Then, it homes in on Thunder Bay and shows the location of Silver Islet.

The caption changes to "Charnel Anderson. Northwestern Ontario Hub Journalist." Then, it changes again to "Restoring history."

Charnel says YEAH, SO IF YOU'RE IN THUNDER BAY AND YOU LOOK OUT TOWARDS LAKE SUPERIOR, YOU'LL SEE THE SLEEPING GIANT, AND SO, THAT'S ACTUALLY LOCATED ON WHAT'S CALLED SIBLEY PENINSULA, WHICH IS JUST WEST OF THE CITY. AND SO, SILVER ISLET IS ACTUALLY TUCKED BEHIND THE SLEEPING GIANT ON THE SIBLEY PENINSULA. AND IN THE MID-1800S, PROSPECTORS IN THE AREA DISCOVERED SILVER. AND SO THEY ACQUIRED THAT LAND... A COMPANY CALLED MONTREAL MINING COMPANY ACQUIRED THAT LAND AND THEY TRIED TO DEVELOP IT. BUT IT WAS REALLY CHALLENGING BECAUSE IT WAS A SMALL LAND MASS AT THE TIME, AND THE SILVER, THEY ESSENTIALLY HAD TO GO UNDER LAKE SUPERIOR IN ORDER TO ACCESS THE SILVER. UM, SO THEY TRIED FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS, AND THE COMPANY, THEY WERE JUST LIKE, "NO, THIS IS AN ENGINEERING NIGHTMARE." AND SO THEY ENDED UP SELLING THE RIGHTS TO THE LAND TO A GENTLEMAN NAMED ALEXANDER SIBLEY, AND HIS COMPANY SILVER ISLET MINING COMPANY. AND SO, SIBLEY WAS ABLE TO DEVELOP THE LAND, AND SO THEY ENDED UP EXPANDING THE ISLAND ACTUALLY ALMOST 10 TIMES ITS ORIGINAL SIZE USING CRUSHED ROCK. THEY ALSO BUILT WOODEN BREAKWATERS AROUND IT TO TRY AND PROTECT IT FROM THE LAKE. THEY BUILT A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS TOO. THEY BUILT A LIGHTHOUSE, A BUNCH OF HOUSES FOR MINERS AND THEIR FAMILIES. THEY EVEN BUILT A JAIL THERE. SO, IT WAS REALLY A WHOLE KIND OF COMMUNITY THAT THEY BUILT. THE MINE OPERATED THROUGHOUT THE 1870S AND THE 1880S AND THEY EXCAVATED OVER THREE MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF SILVER, AND IT CAME TO BE KNOWN AS THE RICHEST SILVER MINE IN THE WORLD UNTIL IT CEASED OPERATIONS IN 1884 BECAUSE THEY RAN OUT OF COAL. AND SO, THE COAL WAS USED TO POWER THE PUMPS TO KEEP THE WATER OUT OF THE MINE SHAFTS. SO WHEN THEY RAN OUT OF THE COAL, THE PUMPS FAILED AND LAKE SUPERIOR RECLAIMED THE MINE. AND SO, MOST PEOPLE ABANDONED THE AREA AFTER THAT, EXCEPT FOR A GENTLEMAN NAMED JAMES WILMINGTON CROSS. HE WAS A FORMER CAPTAIN WHO KIND OF BECAME THE ISLAND'S CARETAKER. AND OVER TIME, MOST OF THE MINER SHACKS WERE SOLD TO COTTAGERS, AND IT KIND OF BECAME THIS SUMMER COTTAGE COMMUNITY, WHICH IS HOW IT REMAINS TODAY.

Jeyan says NOW, I UNDERSTAND ONE OF THE OTHER STRUCTURES THAT'S KIND OF REMAINED THERE WAS THE GENERAL STORE AND IT HAD A VERY DIFFERENT USE IN THE 1800'S. WHAT EXACTLY WAS THAT?

The caption changes to "Charnel Anderson, @charneland."

Charnel says MM, SO, AS THE MINING COMPANY WAS KIND OF DEVELOPING THE LAND AND ESTABLISHING THIS COMMUNITY, THEY BUILT A WAREHOUSE, AS YOU MENTIONED, AND SO THAT'S WHERE THE MINERS WOULD GO AND PICK UP THEIR GEAR. SO STUFF LIKE PICK AXES, OR CLOTHING, BOOTS, HARD HATS, STUFF LIKE THAT. BUT, YOU KNOW, OF COURSE, AFTER ALL THE MINERS LEFT, THIS WAREHOUSE FULL OF MINING EQUIPMENT WASN'T REALLY USEFUL ANYMORE. AND, SO THE... CROSS, AS I MENTIONED, WHO BECAME THE ISLAND'S CARETAKER, HIS FAMILY KIND OF TOOK OVER ALL THE UNINHABITED PROPERTIES THAT WERE LEFT BEHIND, INCLUDING THE WAREHOUSE, AND THEY EVENTUALLY TURNED THAT INTO WHAT IS NOW THE GENERAL STORE.

Jeyan says TELL US ABOUT THE FAMILY. I UNDERSTAND, YOU KNOW, THIS ISLAND... THIS, YOU KNOW, ISLET HAS A VERY RICH HISTORY. IT ALSO HAS AN INTERESTING STORY THERE AS WELL. WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THEM?

The caption changes to "A family heirloom."

Charnel says YEAH, SO THERE'S A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT FAMILY HISTORIES HERE. SO, I JUST MENTIONED THE CROSS FAMILY WHO TURNED THE WAREHOUSE INTO THE GENERAL STORE. AND SO, THE GENERAL STORE KIND OF STAYED WITHIN THEIR FAMILY FOR A FEW GENERATIONS BY THE 1980S, IT WAS OWNED BY A GENTLEMAN NAMED SYD HALTER, WHO WAS ACTUALLY MARRIED TO CROSS'S GRANDDAUGHTER THEA CROSS. AND SO, THE CURRENT OWNER, WHO, HIS NAME IS JEFF KORKOLA. HE OWNS IT ALONGSIDE WITH HIS WIFE SANDY. HE KIND OF EXPLAINED ALL THIS TO ME. AND, UM... SO, HOW THEY CAME INTO IT. SO, SANDY HAD A BROTHER NAMED LORNE. HIS NAME WAS LORNE SAXBERG AND HE WAS ACTUALLY AN ANCHOR FOR THE CBC FOR A WHILE. SADLY, HE DIED IN AN ACCIDENT IN 2006, BUT THE FIRST TIME LORNE SAW SILVER ISLET, HE WAS OUT THERE DOING SOME FILMING AND HE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE PLACE, BECAUSE, I MEAN, IT'S REALLY NOT HARD TO DO. AND, SO, AFTER THAT, LORNE INQUIRED ABOUT THE PROPERTY. AND EVENTUALLY, IN THE LATE 1980S, THE SAXBERG FAMILY BOUGHT IT FROM THE CROSS FAMILY. AND SO, THE SAXBERGS RAN IT FOR A WHILE, SO THAT WOULD BE SANDY AND LORNE'S PARENTS. BUT OF COURSE, AS IT HAPPENS, THEY GOT OLDER AND THEY WERE NO LONGER ABLE TO KEEP UP WITH IT. SO THEY PUT IT UP FOR SALE, AND IT WAS ON THE MARKET FOR A FEW YEARS. THERE WAS SOME INTEREST, BUT THEY DIDN'T END UP SELLING IT, SO THEY TOOK IT OFF THE MARKET. AND EVENTUALLY, THE STARS KIND OF ALIGNED ALLOWING JEFF AND SANDY TO BUY IT.

Jeyan says SO, IT'S KEEPIN' IT IN THE FAMILY. NOW, AS YOU MENTIONED, YOU SPOKE TO JEFF. AND I ACTUALLY WANT TO SHOW SOME PICTURES. THIS IS SORT OF, YOU KNOW, HE HAS BIG PLANS FOR THIS. THIS IS ACTUALLY A PHOTO OF THE BEFORE. CAN YOU TELL US WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT HERE?

In a picture, a wooden living room appears in which a large black and white picture of a house hangs from a wall.

Charnel says YEAH, SO, IT'S A PHOTO OF A PHOTO, AND I'M NOT ENTIRELY SURE WHEN THE ORIGINAL PHOTO WAS TAKEN, BUT IF YOU LOOK REALLY CLOSELY, YOU CAN KIND OF SEE PEOPLE AROUND THE BUILDING. AND ON TOP OF THE BUILDING THERE WAS ACTUALLY A PLATFORM. AND SO, JEFF EXPLAINED TO ME THAT WAS CALLED THE WIDOW'S WALK. YOU WOULD ACCESS THAT FROM INSIDE THE BUILDING. THERE WERE BARRELS FULL OF WATER ON TOP, WHICH COULD BE EMPTIED IN CASE OF FIRE. SO THAT WAS KIND OF THEIR FIRE SAFETY PLAN AT THE TIME. YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT OF WOOD IN THAT BUILDING, SO THEY NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING.

Jeyan says NOW, I DO WANNA SHOW A PHOTO OF WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE NOW. A BIT OF A NICE, LITTLE REFRESH THERE.

A modern-day picture shows a blue three-storey house with a gabled roof.

Charnel says MM-HM, SO I TOOK THAT PHOTO WHEN I WENT TO SILVER ISLET IN JUNE. AND THAT'S KIND OF THE FRONT ENTRANCE WHEN YOU PULL UP. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IS REALLY THE BLUE EXTERIOR, RIGHT. THAT'S KIND OF BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH THE GENERAL STORE, IN MY MIND AT LEAST. AND, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, I THINK THEY'RE GONNA KIND OF HONOUR THAT AND KEEP IT THE SAME BLUE COLOUR.

Jeyan says THE WORK THAT'S BEEN DONE TO SORT OF, YOU KNOW, RENEW THIS AREA ALL KIND OF STARTED WITH SOME DOCK WORK THAT WAS ACTUALLY QUITE NECESSARY IN ORDER FOR THIS ALL TO HAPPEN. WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT?

Charnel says YEAH, SO, ACTUALLY, A BIG PART OF THIS, WHICH I THINK, YOU KNOW, LUCKILY, JEFF AND SANDY DIDN'T HAVE TO DO THEMSELVES WAS REPAIRING THE DOCK OUT FRONT IN THE HARBOUR, BECAUSE THAT DOCK WAS OVER A HUNDRED YEARS OLD. IT WAS MADE OF TIMBER. IT'S ON LAKE SUPERIOR. SO YOU CAN IMAGINE, YOU KNOW, THE KIND OF SHAPE IT WAS IN. AND BY 2013, IT WAS ACTUALLY CONDEMNED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS. AND SO, OF COURSE THAT WAS A BIG PROBLEM, BECAUSE THIS IS BIG, EXPENSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE. UM, BUT WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING WAS THE DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS TORE IT OUT AND THEY REPLACED IT WITH A CONCRETE TOP DOCK, WHICH ACTUALLY, MY DAD WORKED ON. HE'S AN IRON WORKER, SO HE HELPED BUILD THAT. AND THEN THEY ALSO REPAIRED THE BREAKWATER IN THE HARBOUR AND REPOSITIONED THE BOAT LAUNCH. THEY DID A LOT OF THIS WORK THAT KIND OF ALLOWED JEFF AND SANDY TO DO THE WORK THAT THEY'RE DOING NOW.

Jeyan says NOW, OF COURSE, WE'RE STILL IN A PANDEMIC AND A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE STARTED TO DO "PANDEMIC PROJECTS." THIS SEEMS TO BE QUITE THE BIG PROJECT HERE. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE SO FAR TO SPRUCE IT UP?

Charnel says YEAH, IT'S A PRETTY AMBITIOUS PANDEMIC PROJECT BECAUSE, LIKE, I TOOK UP GARDENING. SO, IT'S NOT THE SAME. (LAUGHING) BUT, YEAH, YOU KNOW, AS JEFF WAS GIVING ME A TOUR, I WAS KIND OF THINKING ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO RENOVATE THIS 150 YEAR OLD BUILDING BECAUSE THAT'S BEEN STANDING THERE, YOU KNOW, LONGER THAN YOU, OR I, OR HIM, ANY OF US HAD BEEN ALIVE. SO I ASKED HIM IF THAT WAS KIND OF AN INTIMIDATING FEAT FOR HIM. AND, HE SAID, "YEAH, IT WAS INTIMIDATING." BUT THEY ALSO KNEW THAT IT WAS DOABLE, RIGHT? IT'S THE KIND OF THING WHEN YOU BREAK IT DOWN INTO CHUNKS IT BECOMES MORE MANAGEABLE. UM, AND THEY'VE COME A LONG WAYS. SO, SO FAR THEY'VE REPAIRED THE CHIMNEY. THEY REDID THE ROOF. SO THEY PUT A STEEL ROOF ON THERE, WHICH IS REALLY DURABLE, BUT IT CAN BE UGLY, BUT WHAT THEY'VE DONE IS USED... THEY'RE STEEL SHINGLES, SO IT KIND OF LOOKS LIKE, UM, YOU KNOW, YOUR STANDARD SHINGLES. IT LOOKS REALLY GOOD. AND THEY'VE ALSO REPLACED THE WINDOWS. THEY'RE WORKING ON PLUMBING AND ELECTRICAL, WHICH IS IMPORTANT, BECAUSE THIS AREA IS ACTUALLY ALL OFF GRID. SO WHAT THEY'VE DONE IS THEY REPLACED A DIESEL GENERATOR WITH SOME SOLAR PANELS. AND SO, THAT'S A LOT OF THE BIG STUFF THAT THEY'VE DONE OVER THE LAST YEAR, AND, UM... BUT, YOU KNOW, JEFF SAID, "THIS IS THE KIND OF PROJECT THAT THERE'S ALWAYS GONNA BE SOMETHING TO DO." YOU KNOW, THEY'RE NEVER GONNA BE FINISHED. BUT, THEY HAVE GOTTEN A LOT OF THE MAJOR STUFF DONE.

Jeyan says I ACTUALLY WANNA PULL UP A PHOTO OF JEFF. THIS IS JEFF IN THE BILLIARDS ROOM AND HE'S QUITE EXCITED ABOUT THAT, BUT HE'S ALSO QUITE EXCITED ABOUT WHAT'S GONNA BE HAPPENING IN THE BACK OF THE STORE. NOW, THERE'S A SAYING: "BUSINESS IN THE FRONT, PARTY IN THE BACK." I UNDERSTAND THERE'S SOME... SOME... SOME GREAT KIND OF INITIATIVES THERE. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

In a picture, Jeff poses inside a room next to a pool table, holding up a large sign that reads "Sibley's pool room." He's in his fifties, with short gray hair and a full beard.

Charnel says MM-HM, YEAH, SO I MEAN, JEFF AND SANDY HAVE A PRETTY STRONG VISION FOR THE STORE. YOU SAW JEFF THERE WITH THE POOL TABLE. THAT'S ACTUALLY ALEXANDER SIBLEY'S ORIGINAL POOL TABLE. SO THEY'RE GONNA HAVE THAT IN THE POOL ROOM AS PART OF THE GENERAL STORE, AND THEN THEY'RE ALSO GONNA HAVE, UM, LIKE, A STORE WITH BASIC SUPPLIES AND MERCHANDISE. THEY'RE GONNA HAVE A COFFEE BAR, SO YOU CAN GO GET YOUR CAPPUCCINOS. UM, THEY'RE GONNA SERVE ICE CREAM, AND THEY'LL HAVE A LITTLE WALK-UP WINDOW, SO YOU CAN KIND OF WALK UP OUTSIDE AND GRAB YOUR TREATS THAT WAY. AND THEN AT THE BACK, AS YOU MENTIONED, THEY'RE GONNA BE MAKING IT A TEA ROOM. IT HAS BEEN A TEA ROOM IN THE PAST. SO, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE GONNA HONOUR THAT TRADITION AND SERVE LIGHT MEALS. AND THEY'RE GONNA DO SOMETHING CALLED "MOONLIGHT TEA," WHICH IS KIND OF LIKE HIGH TEA, BUT AT NIGHT. SO I THINK THAT'LL BE REALLY COOL.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Jeyan says SOME VERY EXCITING STUFF. THANK YOU SO MUCH, CHARNEL. AND THAT'S IT FOR TONIGHT'S AGENDA IN THE SUMMER. I'M JEYAN JEGANATHAN. THANKS FOR WATCHING TVO, AND FOR JOINING US ONLINE AT TVO.ORG. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND, AND NAM WILL SEE YOU AGAIN ON MONDAY.

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