The Last Word: Words of Wisdom from Chief Dan George
By Cory Galbraith
He was a logger, construction worker, musician, poet—and a movie star who won an academy award. Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver died in 1981, but he left us some advice that’s badly needed in the world today.
The heart never knows the colour of the skin. If you fell in love with someone’s voice or personality without ever seeing them, their physical appearance would be meaningless. To bring nations and people together, Chief Dan George always emphasized the heart. If we only come together physically, he said, the walls will be as high as mountains.
Nothing belongs to you, so you must share. Do we really ever own anything, or are we just borrowing? Our home is a temporary residence and our money will one day be in the hands of someone else. All that we claim to own is not truly owned, but just used while we are here. Chief Dan George believed that all things—including the earth itself, are of benefit to all people. Think “share” instead of “own.”
What you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys. We do indeed want to destroy that which we fear. The wars that rage across our planet every day, and every human conflict, possess fear at the core. The solution, said Chief Dan George, is understanding. We must talk, listen, and learn to evaporate fear. If you talk with the animals, and they with you, he said, you will know each other.
Chief Dan George did not begin his acting career until he was in his 60s. He first spent 30 years as a logger, until a large load of lumber fell on top of him, and then he thought acting would be less dangerous. He became a Hollywood legend, starring with Dustin Hoffman in the movie “Little Big Man” in 1970, but he continued to live in the tiny house he built on his B.C. reserve. Let the words of the Chief live on.
Cory Galbraith is a former journalist turned entrepreneur.
He is CEO of Ottawa-based Webcast Canada, a leading online streaming company.