Nokwan

(It Is Revealed)

My life is a twisted scrap heap because of the many obstacles I face, but I am not the only Aboriginal facing imminent disaster at an early age. Also lost are my fellow Aboriginals because of the many issues we face, like substance abuse, poverty, and lack of education. The problems spawn from loss of our culture through the outlawing of our customs like Potlucks and Sundance. We lost our identity through Residential Schools and the forced settlement on Reservations. Today, one of my last days in school before dropping out, I present the history of my people’s interactions with the Europeans. Without further ado, here it is:

“First sign of trouble was when the Europeans arrived to fish off the coast of Newfoundland and discovered Beaver pelts sold well in Europe. France decided to first found a permanent settlement at Acadia and in 1608 they founded a base at modern day Quebec City. The Europeans started scheming to make a vast profit off of a seemingly inexhaustible supply of pelts, forcing a move inland.

By 1640 there was an estimated Canadian Indigenous population of 350,000 to 500,000 and the modern tribes of North America were born in Canada. The Europeans had depended on their large and productive trade network across the continent to ship their furs back East. After the War of 1812, the Aboriginals lost the power of persuasion above the British officials, as they were no longer needed as muscle for the war. The role of Indian Agents changed from recruiting warriors to swaying Aboriginals into an alternative way of life. They expected the Tribes to abandon their nomadic ways and settle down in a European fashion.

By formation of the Red River Settlement in Manitoba in 1812, the Métis had been born, and the Aboriginals lost their culture. The Mohawk Institute was the first Residential School and took in its first boarding students in Brantford, Ontario, by 1831. Christian Churches ran the Residential School System and there were 80 schools across Canada with the last closing in 1996. The system ran rampant with sexual and physical abuse of the students, with whipping, chaining, and confinement of students being problems. They forced the students into speaking English instead of their Mother-tongues and the children had safety pins put through their tongue and lower lip for speaking their language. Coerced sterilization of Aboriginal women also took place starting in 1928 in Alberta.

Treaties had legally surrendered the land comprising Ontario with Confederation in 1867, but by 1910 there were signs of trouble. The Chippewa complained the treaties signed during colonial periods were rife with faulty descriptions, incomplete documents, and failed payments. In 1973, Land Claims started based upon the claim that the Canadian Government did not fulfill its obligations under the historic treaties or the Indian Act. Land claims persist even in 2020.

Disparities persist in the modern ages even in the urban centres where many Aboriginals, who are lucky to have a home as 1 in 4 are homeless, are undereducated and must rely on Employment and Income Assistance for support. Affordable housing is mostly substandard, and most homes require a major overhaul to be livable. There are major dissimilarities in income levels between Aboriginals and other ethnicities in my hometown of Winnipeg, where I was born and raised.”

I gave that presentation years ago in Junior High, and life since then has forever changed. I dropped out because I failed that presentation and couldn’t afford summer school. It appears I was too meek and didn’t address the class appropriately. After dropping out of school, like a lot of Aboriginals, I started down the toughest road life could offer, leading me to Aboriginal gangs. Forgotten were my words as I survived the heartless cold streets of Winnipeg’s North End, like the rest of my largely ignored Aboriginal people. I was a lonely boy who started by stealing cars at six only to have recent laws enacted because of me and my friends.

Joyriding, it seems, is not auto theft. By ten I was a gangster, and by twelve me and my brother had established the Red Inferno street gang, the first Aboriginal street gang in North America. I found a love and wanted to take her away but soon became sucked in and played the game. Left uneducated, and with little practical skills for a conventional job, we followed through with Crack Cocaine’s easy money and began dealing in the streets.

By fifteen we cooked crack in abandoned houses and dealt in a condemned garage, baking and shaking to the tunes of Ghetto Rap. My first rock was but a fantasy, smoked in a Brillo tipped glass pipe, and shared with my girlfriend to test our new product’s potency. It marked the start of an unknown life for me and my budding flame, and we had little to lose and much street credit to gain.

“Donna, did you get that backing soda like I asked? Here’s the snow.” I announced as I pulled out a large cellophane wrapped package.

Small for an ounce of cut coke but then again I was new to this game and had never seen one before. About an 8 inch x 4 inch x 3 inch brick of powdery bliss worth about two thousand dollars. Cooked up into four times as much crack by weight and then divided into five pieces a gram to sell for twenty dollars, a rock leading to a profit of about ten grand, so off to work we go. It sure has come a long way from what amounted to borrowing cars, and now we risked serious jail time.

“Yea, and I spread it around this time. That chink at the gook store down the street keeps looking at me. It’s creepy, it’s like he already knows, and we only made two batches.”. she said as she approached me seductively.

“Now’s not the time. I got what I wanted last night, and this morning after you woke up. Now I got to have some. I need a hoot.” I said, as I walked over to the silver platter on the coffee table.

The silver platter was a hand-me-down from my dad’s side of the family. It had ornately carved designs etched into the surface and around the edges. Intricate patterns that covered the surface of the platter, giving it a beauty unlike much else I had. There were swirls and ridges giving away the identity of the piece. It meant a lot to me as it used to be my Grandmother’s, but now it was mine. Probably better off in a junk shop like a Sally Ann or some other place where a decent hard-working individual could legally get it and put it to use serving tea fit for Royalty, I used it to serve up drugs.

On the platter was a glass crack pipe, with a bulbous protrusion at one end for holding smoke, another cylindrical pipe that had a piece of plastic on one end so you didn’t burn your lips when you smoked from it, two half empty lighters used for the last couple of days, a razor blade we used for cutting up our own blend of rock and then the pièce de résistance an elegant glass sugar dish with an equally elegant lid sitting in the middle of the mix. I moved for the bowl and opened a metaphor for life waiting to rot in incarceration. I grabbed a good-sized chunk from the top of the over brimming bowl and put it on the platter to cut up.

“You interested? I went first last time. This time you get your rock on first. Unless you’re still excited for bedroom play, ah, who am I kidding you are used to me being in charge. I hoped to break you of this stuff one day, but here I am again offering you another piece.” I said as I reached for the razor.

“Sure. I like to get screwed up before I slew the shit. That way I don’t have to think consciously about where it goes… Who gets their hands on our product and what it does to them. I know we had that talk the other day, but still, I must face it, we are ruining lives. Our crack maybe the best that I’ve ever smoked, but this is Uncle Jack’s personal recipe. Now that he’s dead and passed it down to me, I use it to make money. I’m not sure he’d like that at all, I mean it was his PERSONAL recipe. He cooked for himself and never sold a rock, although he blessed it and thought it had spiritual properties. He claimed that he was a better man for smoking crack, more mentally stable, and the smoke made him more coherent while curing his blues.”

“Don’t give me that Uncle business no more, I know you two were close, but stop! You said it would lead us out of trouble, not deeper into the woods. Oh wait, there are two sides to the forest. If I walk far enough through, I will come out, maybe not where I wanted to, but still there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

“You know, that’s why I’m still with you. You see reason in everything. You just make sense to me. If we are going to make enough to front an alternative life then quit, then I’m in with you. All the way… Like in poker. ALL IN!”

I reached over the table and cut off a piece. Melted it in to the Brillo of the smaller pipe and passed it over to my girlfriend. She grabbed a free lighter and lit up. She inhaled deeply and sucked back the thick luscious smoke, savouring it as it hung heavily in her lungs. After a few seconds she exhaled and sighed, deep with emotion. Next up was my turn. I followed the same procedure and melted in a piece. I did the same ritual as her and inhaled deeply, yet again savouring the smoke.

I became light-headed and felt a wild sexual desire cross over me. I wanted that booty call now. I wanted that raw carnal lust I now felt fulfilled, and I wanted this woman to be pregnant with my child. I wanted family above all else with this one, the one mom and dad would never allow. The one people would scorn and say was better off in jail. Really, why do we sell drugs? Personally, I think it’s just because our society secretly condones them and a large segment wants to get them.

“Do you think dealing will ever end for us?” I asked.

“What do you mean? I though we had an exit plan? Aren’t you laundering our money at the Casinos bit by bit? You know buying chips, walking around and then cashing them in for legit money?”

“Yeah, amongst other things, but still, I’m not sure we can get out… I have a confession to make. I’m a gang member. I belong to an Aboriginal gang.”

“Really? Which one?”

“The Red Inferno… We are big in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. We even have a foothold in Alberta and places in the United States like Chicago, Detroit, and as far south as Los Angeles. I’m a major player… like a made man in the Mob.”

“That’s not what you told me when we met. You said you were looking for a quick buck and I agreed to help you, now what?”

“Well, I thought I’d leave it up to you? I’ve met many people who want drugs and have no genuine problem with getting busted? You? If it came down to it?”

“I don’t want to go to jail… it would scare me.”

“I’d like to think of jail as a second home: Beds, clothes, meals, even training for a fresh life… can’t be that bad.”

“Really? What about getting shanked, or getting raped? Does that even happen?”

“I’m not sure, but I’ve got brothers… Lots of them. I’ll introduce you to some. I just wanted to be honest with you before you get too sucked in… I… Kinda like you… A lot.”

“Yeah sure… I’ve been lied to before by boys, but I see you are more grown up than a lot of them. You seem more mature and better put together. I’m in! I mean it… jail shmail.”

“Do you know why I sell drugs?”

“No.”

“It’s because there is a lack of concern for my people and we have no other choice. Aboriginals are unfairly treated and still have nothing more than the social system to rely on for income. It’s sort of like revenge to get them white kids all screwed up when they can’t handle it, but I warn them all before I sell it to them.”

“Really? I don’t believe you… you’re lying!”

“You don’t believe me?”

“No, you’re not like that… it’s just good money and many people smoke crack.”

“Good… I’m being full of crap to see your genuine face. I don’t want you around me if you think I screw people up… or kill kids.”

“Okay then, I’m in… I got nothing to lose. I’ve got nothing else to do either and I’d like to stand up for Aboriginals.” she sighed and smiled.

She wasn’t buying into that screwed up sense that Aboriginals were destroying society. She didn’t believe that they were lazy and wouldn’t work. When the Europeans arrived and took our land and killed off the Buffalo, they left us with nothing but a reliance on the newly founded Dominion of Canada. Even Royalty in England thought us Primitives would not adapt to the new age, but look now some of us are succeeding as doctors, lawyers, politicians and the such in the face of extreme racism, the worst of it being in Winnipeg at least in Canada.

Many others decayed society like one percenter bike clubs, the Mob, and even the Asian organized crime families. We endured all the Reservations without being able to leave, Indian Agents, Residential Schools, Forced Sterilization, Banning of our Customs and Culture and even the loss of our languages… Who the HELL safety pins a kid’s tongue to her lip? SCREW YOU! Here, have some of my hatred back… You gave me nothing and get back what you gave… You took it all away and left me at the curb like trash. We just provide whatcha ya, whatcha ya want! Yeah, there it is… Whatcha ya, whatcha ya want!

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