Sacred Bear Park

Forty-two years ago, the St. John’s Evening Telegram ran a story about a proposed Mi’kmaq park on the west coast of the island. The Sept. 26, 1979 article by Terry LeDrew about Sacred Bear Park is below.

Sacred Bear Park Ev Tel 1979
Sean (right) and Dick Gabriel read letters supporting a proposed heritage park for the Corner Brook area. Sean, chief of the Corner Brook Indian Band Council, and his brother, are actively studying the feasibility of creating a native Mic Mac Park, which would be named Sacred Bear Park.

Native park aim of Indian group

By Terry LeDrew, Telegram Correspondent

The Corner Brook Indian Association is investigating the feasibility of establishing a native park close to the west coast city.

In an interview with The Evening Telegram, band council chief Sean Gabriel said the proposal has received “excellent” support from both the provincial government and the private sector, and meetings are being held with various government-sponsored programs in an effort to receive funds for the feasibility study.

The park, which would be named Sacred Bear Park, would comprise a large, forested area close to Corner Brook and would contain an exact replica of a Mic Mac village as it existed before contact with European settlers, as well as depicting Mic Mac life on a day-to-day basis.

Gabriel says the proposed park would have a twofold significance; helping to increase awareness among local native people for their culture, while increasing employment among Mic Mac descendants in such a way as to promote pride in their community, as well as being an important contribution to tourism in the province.

No Vehicles

The park, he said, would be a walk-in affair, with no motor vehicles of any kind allowed. All other means of transportation to the park, which, if all goes ahead, will boast about 40 miles of wilderness trails at the village. These, he added, would include snowshoe and sled trails for the winter months, and horseback-riding trails and canoe routes for the summer and fall operation.

Although no site has been definitely decided upon for the native park, Gabriel says it would have to be a forested area, with mountains, a minimum of two lakes, and be close enough for the west coast city to benefit economically.

Gabriel, who notes the park is only in the planning stage at present, says he would eventually like to see an extensive area, offering cabins for overnight trailriders or hikers, ponds stocked with native, brown and rainbow trout and a crafts centre, offering authentic, high-quality crafts for sale throughout the province and the rest of Canada.

The west coast city, which has an Indian population of about 400, has close to its boundaries several known Indian burial and encampment sites, says the band leader, although these have not been excavated.

Long-term goals are to establish an archives building, in the proposed park, in which objects from these and other burial and campsites may be displayed.

As well as being a recreation area, the park would also provide support and assistance to schools and colleges as a base of operations from which to study and enjoy nature and would help ensure the preservation of a wilderness area.

More than 56 people would be employed year-round at the proposed park, said the band leader, helping to alleviate the rampantly high unemployment level in the city, and the park would promote the spending of local money as well as attracting tourist dollars into the west coast area, which would stimulate local business.

9/11 Dogs

Twenty years after, the 9/11 dogs are gone. They searched, rescued, comforted. If you remember the day, you also remember the dogs. Bretagne, the last one, died in June 2016 at almost 17 years old.

Rescue_dog-15-sep-2001-Preston-Keres-US-Navy-wikicommonsThis photo is of SAR dog Riley being lifted from the gnarl of the World Trade Center. Taken by Preston Keres of the US Navy, it says pretty much everything America wanted to say about surviving. Riley died in February 2010 at the age of 13, retired and living with his handler Chris Selfridge.

Bretagne and Riley are just two of the dogs who worked at the sites of attacks on September 11, 2001. Guide dogs Salty and Roselle led their people, and others, out of the World Trade Center as the towers collapsed. Ricky was a Rat Terrier, small enough to fit in spaces the bigger dogs couldn’t. He worked at the WTC site for 10 straight days. Only one dog died at the time of the attacks. Port Authority Police K9 Sirius became trapped when the South Tower started to collapse.

Redefining the role of working dogs

Search and rescue dogs helped find the living amid the rubble, and also the dead. Sniffer dogs and cadaver dogs worked tirelessly in the bowels of rubble, looking for anyone. The dogs, like their handlers, worked beyond their limits. And they comforted people when they took a rest, just by their presence.

9/11 – the World Trade Center, the UA Flight 93 crash, the Pentagon – changed the way SAR dogs are deployed in emergencies and disasters. The scale and type of destruction was much more complicated than the situations where they normally work. Instead of looking through woods or fields for a missing person or two, they were searching for many in a mass of broken building materials.

The environment was different, and so was the task. Instead of looking for either the living or the dead, according to their training, SAR and cadaver dogs quickly adapted to looking for the sign or scent of anyone alive or not. After 9/11, more emergency disaster dogs were trained, and more people and their dogs became involved in rescue work.

After 9/11

The dogs of 9/11 continued to help. Many continued working in search and rescue, deployed in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They also were the subjects of a study on the long-term effects of working amid hazardous ruins. Dr. Cynthia Otto, of the UPenn School of Veterinary Medicine, monitored the health of 95 9/11 dogs for the rest of their lives. She found few differences between those dogs and the control group.

After 9/11, “comfort dogs” became a new specialty for therapy dogs who also trained to work in disasters. The term came from a NYC firefighter who asked “where are those comfort dogs?” while working on the WTC site. They were a big part of the response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

TRAKR-Wiki-Photo-1997A Halifax Police dog, Trakr, located the last person found alive 26 hours after the collapse of the towers. Trakr (pictured at right) died in April 2009. But he lives on, literally kind of, with 5 puppies having been cloned from him. They also trained in search and rescue.

There are exhibits about the 9/11 dogs at both the Museum of the Dog and the 9/11 Memorial Museum, both in New York City. The AKC Museum exhibit runs until January 2, 2022 and the 9/11 Museum exhibit, K-9 Courage, until winter 2022.

For more, see Newsweek 9/11/20 Canine Heroes. Also my Dogs in War for other extraordinary military and civilian dogs.