THUNDER BAY – Editorial – Bridging cultures is part of an Anishinaabe prophecy that says the Aboriginal peoples and the rest of Canada will to come together and build the ‘8TH Fire’ of justice and harmony. Over the course of this week, witnessing how a brother, Ronnie Beaver, has spoken about his brother, Barney Beaver has offered an insight into how things are, and how in many ways people are not different, and not as different as some might think.
Ronnie Beaver’s brother was the victim of an assault and beating last weekend. Barney Beaver was transported to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. He was placed on life support. His injuries were severe.
On Friday, December 23rd, the family met, and made a very difficult decision. That decision was to take their loved one off of life support. The life support was disconnected at 6:00PM on December 23rd. At 7:18AM on December 24, 2011, Barney Beaver passed out of this world.
His brother, has through the week, taken a path toward prayer, and preparation for his brother.
His message started somewhere most people might not have started.
Here is what he shared, “When I see my brother’s children praying for his recovery it brings tears to my eyes. It must be hard for them. Just imagine it was your dad. We as Anishinbeg were given 7 Natural Laws of LIFE by Creator; LOVE-RESPECT-HONESTY-TRUTH-HUMILITY-WISDOM-COURAGE, when we break one natural law we’re breaking all of them because they all work together in balance. When we break 7 natural laws we don’t just break the law with Creator. We break them against ourselves and our family we suffer and pay for it rest of his life…This is why we are suffering today, we were forced to abandon our culture and the 7 Natural Laws of Life.”
There was no anger against the person who is accused of the aggravated assault who remains in custody, but a look inward toward his culture and faith.
Just like people of all faiths often hold during trying times.
One could gather from his messages through the week, that Ronnie Beaver was prepared for the worst, but hoping for a miracle.
“Live Your Life Tecumseh So live your life so the fear of death can never enter your heart.
“Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their views, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a stranger if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
“Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools, and robs them of their visions. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
After his brother had been taken off of life support, and passed away, his brother stayed on the same path.
“Meeqwetch! Kitch-meeqwetch! To all people who are sending kindness, love and prayers to my family. Meeqwetch! for praying for my brother when he was fighting for life. I did sweatlodge ceremonies for him when he was in the hospital his spirit came to the ceremonies. He choose to take the spiritual walk because he didn’t want his family suffer further. He would never live a normal life on earth the amount of brain injuries he received but in the Spirit World he has no injuries, no pain. I’m very happy for him for making good decision and also the support his children and family gave him to take life support off which was keeping him alive…. Meeeqwetch! I love you, ALL”.
In Thunder Bay often there is a gap between our Aboriginal residents and other residents. There should not be a wide gulf between different cultures and different peoples. There should be respect and acceptance that those differences can, should we choose to let them, be things that make us stronger.
Can you imagine Thunder Bay without the Hoito? Without The Da Vinci Centre? Without the Italian Cultural Centre?
Our Aboriginal people living in our community are making their presence felt, and more often than not it is in a positive way. Accepting and respecting those ways is a way that each of us, and our community and region can grow.
Perhaps in death, Barney Beaver can help open more eyes around our city and region that the love of family and friends is not any different in any family.
Ronnie Beaver shared, “we accept all nations..even in our ceremonies”.
Maybe from here, we can begin to move forward to a better and more respectful and brighter future? Could we light the 8th Fire and strive to have a better future together?
Lets work toward it. It is a goal worthy of all our efforts.
Image courtesy of Aaron Paquette