Robert H. Schooner – “Unnie” – Lamas
April 5, 1948 – October 27, 2012
‘Unnie’ Robert Harold Schooner (Lamas) was second of four children born to Andy Schooner Jr. and Delavine Schooner (nee Saunders). He is their only son.
Unnie got his nickname from his Ulkatcho family from Anahim Lake. His auntie Mary Jane McEwen and cousin Usteen Jack would always call to him “Unnie, Unnie,” which means, “come here, come here.” This nickname stuck with him throughout his life.
Unnie had a good childhood. His parents taught him to uphold the traditional beliefs and live off the land. He spent many years with his dad learning to trap, to fish, and hunt. His dad also taught him how to earn a living, getting him involved in hand-logging and commercial fishing at an early age. This hard work served him well, leading to success in the fishing industry. He fished all along the BC coast from Prince Rupert to the Fraser River, catching everything from crab and herring to salmon and halibut.
Unnie worked hard at everything he did. When he was young, he became very good at marbles. He was so good that he won enough marbles to fill a suitcase. One day, his sister Clara was so upset with him that she got Hwrna to help her take that suitcase down to the river. Then they took turns shooting the marbles across the river with a slingshot. Those marbles can still be found on the island over there.
Unnie continued to work hard, hand-logging from an early age. This is where he gained many friends, friends he would continue to go to for advice and support. Any time he had questions, needed a hand or wanted to talk, he would go to Harvey or Obie Mack. Unnie really enjoyed the time he spent hand-logging. He would always talk about the crazy stuff they did at camp, stressing how dangerous it was and how it needed to be done safely.
Unnie’s friendship with Harvey continued when they joined the commercial fishing fleet. “Indian Giver – Beer Barrel, you on there Harv?” could often to be heard over the radio. He spent many years fishing with Harvey Mack and Joe Saunders, he learned a lot from them and would pass that knowledge on to his children.
Unnie was also a family man, always caring and providing for his wife, Melody, and their children Karla, Harvey, Vern, and Tyra. He also cared and provided for his extended family; his sisters Claire, Juanita, and Althea, his mom Delavine and his other children. He always was bringing them fish, moose, and deer meat. His generosity extended to the whole community, he would always donate to anybody in need, and he never asked for recognition for all that he gave.
Unnie was also very spiritual and believed in the Nuxalk customs. He was always gathering and preparing Indian Medicine. He also learned many of the stories and collected many of the masks associated with them. He was instrumental in getting the Echo Mask returned to the community. One of the elders commented on that when he was on Band Council, “Unnie always worked for the people.”
Unnie was also a true outdoorsman. He loved hunting and rod fishing, and would go hunting every year in October and bring a moose home around Karla’s birthday. During the winter he would also take his children steelhead fishing. He loved hunting and always wanted to go up North near Fort St. John with Harvey, he finally got his wish and drove up north by himself. While he was up there he kept saying how beautiful it was and how he wanted to take Melody up there.
Unfortunately, he would not get the chance. He passed away shortly after returning home to Bella Coola.
Unnie leaves behind his family, many friends, and leaves us with his strong work ethic, spiritual beliefs and generosity. Unnie will be greatly missed by all.