I'm wearing all black -- leggings, socks, running shirt, sweater, ski pants -- around the house. It's 6:50am. I open my ripped, burgundy backpack and stuff my blue and black lunch bag with the Treaty 4 Education Conference logo of four arrows dividing a circle into four parts: Elders, School, Community, Family. I lace up my hikers and pull on my turquoise parka, flipping the faux-fur hood over my head so I can slip on the orange reflector vest. I take my bag of shoes, tartan and black jacket on a hanger, and red suitcase to the Envoy: my week's clothing. With a black toque and blue, woolen mitts, I start down the hill at 7:11am.
The morning is black enough that I can see the stars clearly. I'm glad that it is not slippery like the cement pad was beside the Envoy. Only two vehicles pass me from behind, and I meet one by the time my phone buzzes 7:30am at the bridge. There is wind, but I carry my mittens because I'm too warm.
My black clothing, back pack, mittens is not all I carry. My heart is heavy for my girlfriend whose world has crumbled; for my student, Raelee, who had to move; for my coffee plan that has failed; for those soldiers from World War I in Three Day Road who slipped in and out of my dreams last night as they slipped in and out of trenches and rubble and church towers, sniping, scouting, killing. One of the fictional Anishinabe men said something like, Over here, we're heroes, but when we go home they'll just treat us like crap.
Reminds me of what Sandy Piany-Schindler told us about First Nations Veterans who were some of the most successful advocates for First Nations treaty rights. When they were serving in the war, in Europe, they were free, fighting for freedom, but when they returned, they were still bound by the Indian Act, the Pass and Permit system.
If I could, I'd just keep walking this morning.