Tarkovsky directed only eleven movies. At least two, Solaris and Mirror, have been acclaimed as movie masterpieces. He also created or co-wrote some 23 movie scenarios or screenplays. Beyond this, all in all, the challenge of creating stories suited to becoming movies seems to have dominated his whole adult working life.
It was my honor yesterday to meet Cecil Planedin. Cecil identifies himself as a Doukhobor wood-block printer. Doukhobors have hands on experience with religious persecution in Canada, with promises to minority communities made and broken, and with enforced assimilation. Like me, he was amazed to learn that a one acre mass grave of several hundred northern native smallpox victims in Victoria could go without being generally known.
This is the annual B.C. Day holiday weekend. However, before Canadians can celebrate B.C. Day with a good conscience, we have work to do. 150 years ago this year, perhaps 100,000 B.C. natives all died within a few months. Among some indigenous Peoples, such as the Haida, Tsilhqot’in, St’at’imc and others, the death toll was as high as 80 percent or more of their whole number. By way of comparison, the death toll at Hiroshima and Nagasaki is commonly estimated at less than 40 percent of those cities.
August 2 is the 150th anniversary of Victoria’s incorporation. In the weeks before, all natives had been expelled from Victoria and their houses burned. The colonial regime of James Douglas had decided natives would be allowed to remain in the European settlement only if a settler certified that they had employment.
At about 9:00pm on July 4, 1862, Francis Poole and eight men from what had begun as a party of 40 straggled into Ft. Alexandria in the geographic center of colonial British Columbia. Poole would say in his memoir that his party had been in hourly dread of attack by “hostile savages,” that one of his party had been killed by the Tsilhqot’in and that his party left a “sorrowful trail of blood.”
On June 10, after visiting Dr. Clerjon at the Ft. Rupert H.B.C. post on Vancouver Island, a party led by Francis Poole would begin introducing smallpox at Bella Coola and then along the route of the proposed Bentinck Arm road through Tsilhqot’in territory to the Fraser River. Within 30 days an eye-witness estimated 75% of the Nuxalk at Bella Coola were dead or dying from the disease. Over 75 percent of all the Tsilhqot’in people would be dead before year end, a sign of systematic introduction.