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Lt.-Gov. makes a Point to sing out loud

Steven Point ended his five-year posting as British Columbia's 28th lieutenant-governor on a high note Thursday, boldly and unabashedly belting out the song he says he wrote for the people of the province one night while sitting alone in Government House, his official residence.

Point raised his hands and sang as aboriginal dancers, a choir and the HMCS Naden Band accompanied the outgoing vice-regal in song.

"This song I wrote in the middle of the night one night," he said of the piece of music he titled "British Columbia"

"You're at Government House, by yourself, with security and there are 102 rooms up there. There's not much to do. But I heard this song and I wrote it down."

Point, a former Skowkale First Nation chief, provincial court judge and treaty negotiator, was the first aboriginal person appointed to represent the Queen in BC.

Known to park his 1977 GMC pickup truck at Government House and strum country songs in its stately rooms, Point embodied down-home charm but was dignified, honest and wise in the way he approached people.

Premier Christy Clark said she will cherish her meetings with Point, especially the wisdom he provided during their chats.

"I know personally, your honour, I will miss our private talks by the fireside," she said. "I will very much miss your sage advice, your thoughtful advice, your willingness to open your heart."

Clark presented Point with a handmade guitar, which he immediately took from its case.

Point returned the warm praise, saying Clark has taken on a leadership role during difficult times.

"You speak with a freshness and an intelligence and energy that has been a welcome breeze in these hallways," he said.

"We need more women in leadership roles, God knows."

Point did more than write songs and entertain guests at Government House. He also carved a dug-out cedar canoe in one the residence's garages and erected a totem in its garden.

Point said he initially didn't want the position of lieutenant-governor. He had grown weary of travel and wanted to spend more time with his family in the Fraser Valley, he said.

"One day the prime minister phoned me and asked me if I would do this," Point said in an interview. "I thought, 'No, I want to go home.'"

"But my wife (Gwendolyn) is the one who suggested to me this might be really good for our people to have someone in this position," Point said.

Laughing, Point said she was right, and he's seen the enthusiasm at his literacy camps on tiny Kuper Island near Victoria and at this summer's totem raising ceremony in the Government House gardens.

"The native people, they're so proud to see our own person to be recognized like this," he said. "They all feel they've been uplifted. It's been great. It was a great thing that's happened."

Point said his legacy will go beyond the totem, canoe and the song he wrote, though he said he hopes the song will be an anthem children and adults will be proud to sing.

He said the canoe on display at the BC legislature and the totem at Government House reflect the values he wanted to bring to the post.

"The canoe project was about reconciliation and how do we get people to better understand each other and begin talking and to break down barriers," he said.

Point will be replaced by Judith Guichon, a rancher from BC's Interior, at an official ceremony on Friday.

The Canadian Press


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