I had heard about #shutdownCanada in advance of February 13. I knew that it was another day to try and bring the national crisis, the national tragedy, the national shame that is Murdered and Missing Native Women in Canada to attention of the world.
I was not sure about the date of this event in comparison to other actions and days around the issue, but it didn't matter. It had my support. This must stop.
When the day came I had forgotten about it and went into the radio station for my afternoon show with the intention of playing four hours of sweetheart songs. It was going to be my first Valentine's Day.
Not soon after arrival at work a council member for the First Nation said that Highway 21 at Aazhoodena was closed down and people had to drive around. I asked what for and he said it was for Murdered and Missing women ,and he told me, as though it was news that he himself could not believe, "they say that that there are thousands across the country."
I did spin songs for sweethearts and the sweethearted and I played songs for the broken hearted. I went into my first break after my intro and I was going to talk about #shutdownCanada. I said that it was a national campaign that was driven online with the hashtag #shutdownCanada and I did not offer specifics on actions but began to talk about the national tragedy that sparked the day. When I got to the word "Thousands", I could no longer speak. It was though, I too, could no longer believe the words that I was saying. I could not go any further.
I hit off on the mic and the red light went out. Dead Air. I tried to speak but it wasn't going to happen. Thank God for Music. I hit play and Pray Sister Pray by Crystal Shawanda begins and she tells the story as honestly and as harshly as it needs to be done. I have a good cry and keep going.
I go online to see if I can get any details on what was happening but there was no stories coming out and when I went to the hashtag on twitter it seemed to have a lot of haters. In my facebook circles I didn't see much action. I posted the hashtag and played the music along with songs to round dance and slow dance.
If people were listening down the road at Aazhoondena that were taking action, I wanted to inspire them and for our non-Native audience I wanted to speak from the heart about this great pain in our country.
Later in the day I was home with my wife and grand daughter. My wife asked me if we could see any images from events across Canada on Youtube. There were only a couple videos posted to the hashtag, one was blocked, one looked like a rant and the first actual action from Montreal. In the video a group of men in black stormtrooper outfits blockaded a road. The men in black are speaking and acting aggressively. They are bearing signs in English that I did not understand. I didn't see anything about our women.
There was a "Bill C- something, something..." I didn't know. My wife said it was the new terrorism surveillance bill. I asked what this had to do with the Murdered and Missing. It was a farce. I felt I could see what those faces underneath looked like and deeper into what their true motives and spirit expressed. I felt ill.
We went back to our search and went to the only other video that looked to be a live event. It was a round dance in BC. Once again in an intersection and once again the traffic was stopped. The women are leading the drumming and singing and it looks to be a gorgeous day and I don't have to imagine what their faces look like under their masks and I can see them smiling and singing and there is no twisting undercurrent of threat and violence and anarchy.
I also know one thing there are people in that circle who have lived with this national nightmare and that their sister, daughter, cousin, friend, mother, wife or lover is gone forever in violence or mystery and no one seems to care.
Men in stormtrooper gear and with hidden faces using the threat of violence do not get to co-opt a movement that is the national crisis, the national shame, the national tragedy of Murdered and Missing Women in Canada. Whoever those men were behind those black masks. Shame on you.
To all of those who danced and sang in the spirit that honours our Missing and Murdered I am grateful that we continue to show the world how to stand against violence in peace.
They say that the only thing to allow the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. Good united becomes great.