Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Ernie Phillip was an old friend of my father's. As young men they worked hard together, had fun and occasionally got into trouble. I met him once as a child. A few years ago we reconnected and today I am proud to call Ernie a friend.

I am a middle aged, doughy white man. At 80 years old Ernie is thinner, far more fit and much more energetic than I will ever be. He also has more hair on his head. Despite what he has gone through in his life he always wears a wide smile and has a fun-loving attitude. If you have ever seen him performing traditional dance, you will know what joy looks like. It is always a pleasure to run into him around town when he is home and not traveling the world.

Aside from performing all over the world for Kings, Queens and World Leaders of all stripes, Ernie is also a respected leader in British Columbia's native communities. More than 30 years ago Ernie and Art Shofley had an idea of an elders’ conference. They wanted to see native elders from all regions gather as they had always done in the past.

The first conference was held in Chilliwack in 1977 with just 34 people. This year thousands are expected to attend the 34th annual conference. Ernie will be front and center.

You can read all about it here.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Having taught in the far north and on native reserves I know how cool it is to be able to call an elder a friend. Such great stories and character. I knew one Inuit elder who took me on a seal hunt and who knew within the hour that we would be hit by a huge blizzard. In a half hour he had built an igloo and for the next day our group weathered out the storm listening to old stories. One of the best times of my life.

M. D. Jackson said...

Cal, that is the coolest story. I used to live in the north (Not quite the Far North) and my friends and I always tried to build igloos without much success. They're harder than they look.

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