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COMMENTARY · 13th January 2011
Merv Ritchie
On January 6, 2011, the Terrace Court house was the scene of a sentencing hearing that revealed a series of cocaine related offences. Freddy Mowatt, a well known Terrace resident and drug dealer was finally sentenced to jail time. During the reading of the prepared statement detailing the events leading up to the arrest and charges, we recorded the names, places and dates. The name Gary Alexcee was used when describing a particular event which led to a further series of arrests. This was unfortunate as many people hold the very same name. It needs to be stated the Gary Alexcee who worked for the Nisga’a and now works for the Kitsumkalum is definitely not the same person who was mentioned in the trial of Mowatt. This Gary Alexcee is an important treaty negotiator and respected member of the First Nations Community. The confusion has apparently caused great consternation across British Columbia and according to Mr. Alexcee, even across international boundaries.

This is not an uncommon occurrence and reminds us how easy it is to cause hurt and hardship by offering quality information on a timely basis. We made no assumptions. We reported on exactly what was stated in the court room earlier in the day. We even made a note for those reading that we may not even have the spellings of the names correct as we were not privy to the court documents. We also could not provide better details on those implicated as these types of identifying details were simply not available.

We might even suggest our readers not assume they know who the person is when they read any name in print, particularly in the First Nations communities where there are a limited number of last names and many who hold the same first names. Sons, Uncles, Fathers, Cousins and even unrelated First Nations with the same last name and this is just mentioning the male side, same applies for the women.

There are many examples, even high profile. Take Bill Bennett for example. Which Bill Bennett? The former Premier of BC? And even then which one? WAC or his son Bill? Or maybe we mean the former Liberal minister from the Kootenays, Bill Bennett.

Many do not know this but I myself ran in the 1996 BC Provincial Election against Gordon Campbell and received only 606 fewer votes than he. This was in the Shuswap riding, which was won by George Abbott. Yes there is even more than one Gordon Campbell.

So it is with some sadness to know our story, which revealed the names of some of the worst characters in our community got caught up with some of the very best. It would be nice however if some of the local people who know who these drug dealers are become more active in removing them, and their associates, from our communities. Greenville in the Nass Valley, where my relative took his own life in August last year, performed this act in the same house and room where his friend did a year earlier. This home and a few others were well known to harbour crack and coke addicts and dealers. How is it that a small community can allow these characters to live amongst their children? They even call the product they sell; a mix of coke and pot rolled into a joint, "Cocapuffs", how insidious! Nisga’a President Mitch Stevens would like to see the problem resolved too, but he cannot resolve it alone.

Terrace is no different. We wrote a series of articles when we first began publishing about the drug dealers; ‘Drug Dealers, Cops and Lawyers’. We had only been in Terrace for 18 months and we already knew the names and residences of a number of coke dealers. If the police and courts cannot succeed then it is up to those in our communities to shun these people. One can refuse service, refuse to say hello or acknowledge them. It used to be a First Nations cultural method of discipline when a member of their community did wrong. A serious wrong could mean expulsion. What does a community have to do to have this problem expelled from our towns? We are blunt. We name names for a reason. We recorded the names and printed them as they were delivered. You need to know the truth. But you also need to know, you could be mistaken with the actual identity, therefore acting on an assumption is not wise.

We are truly sorry the reference to one name has caused such discomfort to one man. We have since asked the RCMP to provide more indentifying information but they have not. All they confirm is these are two very different people. So once again Gary, we apologize for the time it has taken to reassure family friends and associates.
What's in a Name?
Comment by Janice Robinson on 28th February 2011
I am pretty fussy about my names too. Although I only know one Gary Alexee, I know there's quite a few Janice Robinsons. Not like me though. I love my names.
I come by my surname honestly. ROBINSON.

My Dad's father....George Robinson, Sr.....was a United (Methodist?) Church minister who met, fell in love with....and married our beautiful Haisla grandmother. They had to travel to Port Essington to be married by the next closest minister.

George Robinson, Sr. came here from Yorkshire, England to preach. He has many proud First Nations descendants.....including me.

When angry and jealous of us, other Native people maliciously use to call us "English limey bastards."

I remind them that our grandparents were married, so we are NOT bastards.

By the way, ....how many Gary Alexees did you say there were around here?