I was going to do a poem about Tina, about Colton, about Cindy,… about the latest drop in a bucket that has long overflowed, red drop after red drop, spilling over the sides, leaving a gooey mess across that floor, that we all feel stuck in.
I wrote the words, but couldn’t bring myself to say them.
This is family, despite our differences in direct lineages, formed together with our backs against the wall pushing against the slow moving genocide that hides itself with talks of budgeting deficits and “policitical correctness”. An ancient grievance that has more than been made up for in all the technology we gained that brought us poisoned waters, broken communities, a dying planet, and the 40 hour work week. We should be thankful for this blessing and swallow it down as the bitter pill necessary to cure us of our “savagery”.
Us backwards folks who were slaughtering our enemies with crude weapons over resources when they stepped upon this land, while, …you know,… they were not creating war and genocide machines the likes the world have never seen and spreading them across the globe. Such a civilized bunch.
So I’m not going to do a poem about Tina, about Colton, about Cindy,… about all the other list of names you likely haven’t even heard of. About the trillions of dollars in trust for our community, that the government squandered and holds away from us while Our People are poisoned by their own taps. Or the billions more in subsidies to the companies that tainted them with impunity. Because we speak, and we cry, and we yell, and no matter the method, it falls on deaf ears. We are just tokens, here for decoration, an illusion of progress that gives a nice shiny screen to cover the continued oppressions. It’s not “diversity” they want, it’s submission. Follow the line, jump through the hoops, and make a palatable version that can be sold to the hierarchy, who will slash its core, and dangle any funds to those who can best express their suffering as trauma porn, but not give them enough to actually alleviate it. Cause clearly, this capitalist paradise is truly the most “civilized” of ideas.
The number rises, a red tide swelling on the pristine sand, unseen from the upscale highrises, far above the shore. From their balconies they see an ocean of possibilities, an endless sea of support, while the bloodstains dilute in the vast waters far from their view, yet right in their own backyard.
The brochures advertise the white sand, swept clean for photo ops by tireless crews there to keep the view breathtaking and the beaches clear of the “savage” waste. They own the land, so can live in their blissful ignorance, high in their towers, unhindered by the efforts of the maintenance staff.
On August 17, 2014, her body was found, wrapped in a duvet and loaded down with rocks near the shores. She was 15 years old.
When she was 12, her father, already dying of cancer, was brutally beaten and left tied in the cold until death. She ended up in so-called protective care, who in the weeks preceeding her death, discarded her unsupervised in a hotel, a vulnerable youth left to her own devices. Unconscious, she was seen and released by hospital staff, a 15 year old alone in crisis.
A 56 year old man with 92 previous convictions, somehow still on the streets, regularly supplied the child with a variety of drugs in a basement, where witnesses say he fondled her, and asked her to “just do (him)”.
Two weeks before she died, Tina called the police on him for stealing a van, and told them that he had stolen her bicycle and sold it to buy drugs. The police, somehow failed to take the 15 year old’s name or notice that she was underage in this horrific situation and took the word of the man who convinced them a Led Zepplin-look-a-like was the real suspect. After all, it’s just another at-risk Native girl in Manitoba.
What hapened next is not fully known, the evidence washed away by the rushing waters, but the duvet that covered her tiny 72 lb body matched his. In recordings, he repeatedly alluded to his crimes, and yet the jury somehow declared him “not guilty” of her murder. No talk of negligence for the agencies who exist to protect her. It’s not their fault. They didn’t add the rocks to the duvet.
And so another body washes up on the shore overnight and is brushed away by the crews before the light of day so that the occupants don’t muddy their view or lower their property values. If they see the occasional drop of blood stained through the grains of sand, they complain that they now can’t walk barefoot along the shores, that the staff is inadequate but refuse to increase the wages to hire enough workers to do a proper job. And once in a while, they may sympathize with the maintenance staff on the difficulty of their job, or the horrors that cause the beaches to be stained in the first place, but more often than not, they remain oblivious, enjoying the view.