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Reports

Friday, 21 March 2003
Hay River --> Fort Providence, NT, Canada

I had a fun stay with the Gwen and Fred. They were very down-to-earth folks and we occasionally had a laugh.

The morning started with a sleep-in (oh, man, I am being spoiled, but seem to need them too to recharge from the last couple of days) and between breakfast and lunch I worked on my writings and we watched the latest developments of the war on Iraq. What a mess we live in!

But I had to get going again. My next destination is Fort Providence, some 2.5 hours driving west along the Great Slave Lake.



It was a distance I did not had to hitchhike this time. Jeff Philip in Yellowknife had arranged a bus ticket for me, paid by his company SSImicro.com. So in the afternoon, around 4pm, I said goodbye and thanks to Gwen and Fred dropped me off – with a gracious hug – at the local bus depot in Hay River.

This is where I had a cosy drive to Fort Providence. In the summertime a ferry would take the bus over the Mackenzie River to this small town, but as the water is frozen, the bus now simply drove on a long ice bridge. Spectacular!

I arrived in Fort Providence around 6.30pm where I was got off at the only bus stop in town, at the Snowshoe Inn. And this is where I was invited to stay for a day.

Jeff Philip owns this hotel with his family and he thought it was a good stop on my trip to Yellowknife, tomorrow.

In 1965 Jeff’s German father Siegfried started this motel in town and the business is in the hands of his grown-up children who manage it nowadays.

At the reception I met up with Jeff’s wife Steph who seemed to be very busy with the accounting of the place and her two children she had taken along from Yellowknife. It was a good coincidence that we met up at the motel, as I could join her and the kids tomorrow on the road to northern Yellowknife.

I was given room 208 (with satellite television and) with a nice view on the frozen river as the motel is based on the banks of the Mackenzie. Steph had told me I could get myself dinner at the restaurant across the street, which belongs to the motel too and functions as a social gathering spot for the local residents of Fort Providence. I had a quiet but relaxing meal inside as I enjoyed the upcoming darkness in this small town.

Fort Providence is a small community with a population of round and about 750 residents and the hamlet is rich in travel history, dating back to the late 1700s, when Alexander Mackenzie made his famous trip on the Mackenzie River. It later became an important trading post and mission station for the Catholic Church as priests were trying to convert the area’s Dene people to Catholicism.

When I was almost done with my steak dinner, a man approached me, saying that he had seen my website. Now was the time my wooden shoe broke, because how could anybody in a small settlement as Fort Providence ever know me?!

The man introduced himself as Sieg Philip. Yes, Jeff’s father. He had seen my website as Jeff told him about me and he was fascinating by my way of travels.

Sieg came to Canada himself as a mechanic looking for a job in 1956. "It was a lousy time and the conditions were no good if you had no official Canadian papers". So when he was lost in Edmonton he heard they were looking for German mechanics up north.

“Now why would they specifically ask for German mechanics?” Sieg had questioned. As an answer he got: “Only those bastards are willing to work up there under these cold conditions.”

With nothing to loose he ended up in Fort Providence and it took a few years, but after he met up with his wife, they started a small motel in town.

And the business grew. “We take any possibility to make business,” he explained to me. So after the motel (which grew bigger when the tourist industry broke loose and the road to Yellowknife was finished) the Snowshoe Inn took care of the ferry service over the Mackenzie River in the summertime.

“You know, the only problem with Fort Providence is that there live a lot of older people here. The kids grow up, go to school and end up leaving this place in the end. So I saw the problem coming with my own four kids that grew up here. I gave over the business to them, but three of them decided to do something elsewhere and Jeff ended up opening up the computer industry for the Northwest Territories.”

In other words, Sieg is still looking for a good partner to take over the business here. It was interested to talk with the man as he was rich of life experiences.

The restaurant closed at 8pm and that was when we parted and we would meet up later tomorrow. I got back to the motel and watched some television to keep up with the latest developments on the other side of the world where some American government is playing the police agent over the world without any consideration with others countries.

If have to loose my thoughts here a bit. I get emails from pro-war supporters from the US that tell me it is a good thing that the evil man Saddam Hussain is going to be removed as the president of Iraq. I agree with that, he is indeed an evil man with a very bad history towards his own people.

But one of the many things that bother me is how Saddam Hussain is the national problem of the United States.

I can give you a fine example to explain the life of a national problem:

In the Netherlands there was a nationwide deed to collect money for hungry people in Africa this month. Yes, people die there because of thirst and starvation as the economy is corrupt and totally out of balance to feed millions of people.

Organisations like Unicef and the Red Cross jump in and launch this big media attack where everybody will be confronted with these hungry people. You'll see them every half hour on TV and you'll see the bank account number you can deposit your financial support on and call different phone lines for information.

Understandably, the whole nation wants to fight the hunger in Africa. Dutch celebrities (yes, we have a handful) join in live television broadcast and complete the entire period with a big spectacle.

"Hunger in Africa should be prohibited and we are helping them out!!!" is the national thought in The Netherlands. During a few weeks over 1,5 million euros were collected.

But what did the rest of the world? Not much. Here in Canada I heard nothing about hunger in Africa, not a word in the English media to be sure. That's because it was made a national problem in The Netherlands only.

This is what happened in the USA the same way!

Only this time it's not about how bad the situation if for starving people in Africa, no it's about the people who live under the regime of Saddam Hoessein. So instead of removing hunger by donations, Saddam should be removed. (And how this is down is a different subject) What I mean to say is that in America Saddam Hussain is made the national problem. The person that you are confronted with in the media every half hour. (now don't tell me that he's a national problem because Iraq could harm the US, that's another discussion again)

But this time there is no Unicef or Red Cross involved in it, only the government. And that's where I get my concerns. Because since when does a government care about the situation of people in another country? Well?

Unicef and the Red Cross in The Netherlands of course wanted to collect a lot of money to stop hunger, what would the US government try to get out of this?

Oscar winning documentary maker Michael Moore[ seems to know what the government of the US is after: "After you 'win' the war, you will enjoy a huge bump in the popularity polls as everyone loves a winner -- and who doesn't like to see a good ass-whoopin' every now and then (especially when it 's some third world ass!). So try your best to ride this victory all the way to next year's election. Of course, that's still a long ways away, so we'll all get to have a good hardy-har-har while we watch the economy sink even further down the toilet!"

And if Saddam Hussain has been a very bad boy, what about all the other world leaders that don't enjoy democracy that much and prefer to keep corruption and other problems rule their country? I don't hear any American media about them and I am sure they can be found.

Or are the US going to get them too as the police agent of the world? Is that a good thing? Or are the US only going after this Saddam to answer fear that has been awaken since 9/11? It sure must feel good then...

That's my entire thought I want to pass on to American readers who feel offended by the fact that I oppose the war on Iraq. Opinions (!!!) are there to be shared.

It is not made a national problem for the rest of the world and that's where opposition against America is coming from the most.

If you (dis)agree with me, I invite you to the news-discussion board on the forum.


The last hours of today I spent at the office of the hotel, where Steph connected me on their high-speed connection so I could work on this website. “I hope you don’t mind the kids,” she said, but I assured her that I was pretty used to having kids running and playing around at many previous places.

Tomorrow more about Steph and Jeff Philip as I will eventually end up at their place in Yellowknife.

Good night Fort Providence!

Ramon.