Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fire Evacuee Hospitality

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I have to share a story. To get it off my chest. I caught a ride with a young Dene man back to saskatoon from our work camp north east of LaLoche. There was no hesitation in him. "You are welcome to ride with me" he said. So in I went and our trip began. We talked about work, he's involved in the geology side of things. After passing the burnt out bush. We arrived at LaLoche and he invited me into his home. His friend would be joining us and be about an hour. While there we were out in the community and I gotta tell you I felt welcome I never felt threatened or different. Good mornings and hello's flowed from seemingly all I encountered. That's were I realized that a smile is the same in every language. His friend arrived and back on the road we went. During the drive there was a change in these young men. Not towards me but towards there destination. A black bandana was soon hung in the rear view so I asked "what's that about". With some hesitation I was told " it's the only way we can travel safely". Wtf??? Anyway. We arrived at North Battleford to one of the hotels up on the hill. A lot of his family and community had been evacuated there and he wanted to stop by and see how everyone was doing. It was not until that moment that racism and bigotry raised it's ugly head. Not towards me. But us white folk can sure be assholes. Little things. The hotel was pretty much filled with LaLoche evacuees that had been there 2 weeks or more. The hotel. This shitty little hotel had removed all the seating from the lobby and placed 2 security guards in there place. They had removed the chairs because the elders of the community would gather there during the day to meet and greet there fellow evacuees. To support them and share advice and news. Why would anyone take away that form of connection. That need for togetherness in there spirituality at a time like that. It sickens me. It may sound like nothing. Just a little thing. No big deal. But it was a big deal and what it really said was your not welcome. Your not one of us and that truly hurt. It hurt me so can you imagine how they felt. It was there I felt the tension. The distrust. The separation. Sad. So very sad. Is it colour that separates us. Is it ideas that separate us. Is it geography that separates us. Peel back the skin and we are all the same. We all feel pain. We all feel alone. Why do we work so hard to feel "better then". There are so many things designed to pull us apart. None so powerful as what's in our heart. I am greatful to these young men for not only the ride and wonderful hospitality. But for opening my eyes without saying a word. 
                                                                    Sean Murray

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