Central Manitoulin council is embarking on a campaign against Island heritage

To the Expositor:

Due to a past difference of opinion between the former editor of this newspaper and myself in regards to actually how much latitude a citizen has to the right of freedom of speech in a free and democratic country, I really never thought I would ever be putting pen to paper to her again, but there comes a time when one must swallow their pride for the greater good.

I write this letter to bring to the forefront to the residents of Manitoulin Island public information on an attack on what makes us all true Islanders—our history and our heritage! What would you be without it? You would have no identity, nothing to carry on to future generations, nothing to keep instilling that pride in your very soul!

At this very moment in time, the mayor and councillors (all but one) of the Municipality of Central Manitoulin are embarking on a campaign of destruction with the sole mission of deactivating halls and schoolhouses in the wards, to dump all cost from all of them to enable them to build a tax gouger, commercial yuppy-plex in Mindemoya!

I am a life-long proud Big Laker. I do not reside or own property there any longer, but every childhood memory of mine is there—every birthday, every Christmas, every supper at grandma’s table, everything—including my first three years of education at SS#2 Sandfield, also known today as the Big Lake Community Centre. I even remember the first day I arrived there in Ernest Moody’s 1949 purple van school bus!

Very simply, Big Lake is my heritage and history and those three years at SS#2 were a huge part of it, which I will never forget.

Many years have passed and back a few years ago after Uncle Tommy, Mr. Sears, Keith Size and I had just finished barbecuing 400 steaks at a Big Lake Community Association (BLCA) Hillbilly Steak Supper, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this place never ceases to amaze me. Such pride in community, in fellowship and in working hard for a good cause.’ That is what SS#2, Big Lake Schoolhouse, means to me.

I always told my kids when they were growing up, ‘know your history and you can better your future!’

I am particularly disappointed in Councillors Diebolt and Shaffer. Councillor Diebolt, simply because she is a Ward 3 councillor and is mandated to be ‘the voice of the residents of her ward.’ She is clearly deaf to the voices coming from Big Lakers, BLCA members and former students of SS#2, and Councillor Shaffer because he is originally from the US where historic sites are held in reverence, respected, maintained and preserved by the state. He obviously has no sense of community, history or heritage by being in favour of going forward with deactivations of historic and heritage sites.

At this time, I want to personally thank Mr. Tribinevicius who is the only councillor who supports maintaining the history and heritage of SS#2 Sandfield, the Big Lake Schoolhouse.

I want to go on record as saying to Central Manitoulin council: Big Lakers will stand firm against these attacks on our history and heritage and will not take one step back on our goal of seeing our history and heritage respected, maintained and preserved! Central Manitoulin, you have picked on the wrong bunch of hillbillies this time! 

Thank you,

Greg Young

Former student of SS#2 Sandfield, 

Big Lake Schoolhouse and proud Big Laker