In the early morning on Monday, I experienced a second vision, with the same man from the first vision in the pre-dawn hours on Friday. In this vision, the man came to me, and I was taken aback, but then shaken into action to embrace my calling as a warrior. The beats of war drums filled my ears as I picked up a club and fought to my own death for indigenous peoples. I came out of my vision startled, and later dreamed of walking for hours until I reached the First Narrows of the Burrard Inlet. The bridge that stands here had been destroyed, and the water had partially frozen, but I was compelled to keep going north, to reach the Squamish people. I slipped into the icy waters and transformed into something that I couldn’t distinguish, because I could no longer observe myself. I felt a great wave of emotion welling up within me over the entire course of that day. I am grieving as I shed my skin again.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I experienced a vision of the Mohawk medicine man again. He was standing in the shadows in a place that felt familiar to me. A place I think I’ve seen, and even stood in front of. And as I approached it in this vision, he emerged from the shadows. He embraced me, and in that moment, I felt his sister with us. I was him and he was her and she was me. The three of us were one person. I felt acutely aware of the sameness I feel towards both this man and this woman (who is no longer among the living, as her life was taken while local police insisted that there was nothing to investigate). I felt a particular clarity I hadn’t felt before, about certain nagging feelings I was having while in his presence — little things he did that reminded me of someone half my lifetime ago, who did the same little things for the same reasons and with the same results. I saw myself in him, and I saw the clarity of my calling and my duty to my spirit. I spent some time afterwards seriously considering celibacy because I could suddenly see why centuries upon centuries of mystics before this moment renounced all attachment to their own sexuality. It just doesn’t matter.
Tuesday, after experiencing visions of the same man three nights in a row, I resolved to step into the street and take a stand against the local police — the jurisdiction that let a serial murderer take the lives of 49 women (most of whom were Aboriginal), because they couldn’t care less about survival sex workers, drug addicts, or the homeless. But especially the sex workers. I felt like my blood was boiling and my heart on fire. My mind was flooding with grief for these women as I set out to create the sign I would be holding. The sign that reads “SHAME ON YOU, VPD! IDLE NO MORE”. A sign that silently declares a war cry; a declaration that will galvanize the rest of the population to either fight for indigenous sovereignty, respect, and justice, or lead to a mass exodus of those who can’t. Enough is enough. Those women shouldn’t have died, and this shouldn’t have been the eighth day that the Prime Minister avoided Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. The whole world is learning just how disposable the greater Canadian colonial society thinks indigenous women are, and it is a disgrace sharply contrasted by Chief Spence’s bravery. She has put her life on the line in the name of justice. She shouldn’t have to die for it.
Wednesday, an Irish Pagan gave me a shaman drum. She told me that it’s been mine since I first spotted it, and that she has just been slow to see that. Goosebumps flowed over the whole of me. I was breathless. I picked it up and held it against my chest. I felt my heart singing, and I felt the pulse of the Earth in the drum. I told her “Miigwetch”. English just didn’t seem right, given the occasion. She gave me the highest compliment anyone could give me: she told me I am a warrior and an inspiration to her. I am without adequate words. But I must set it aside for a while, to bring home one red rose and one yellow rose. Red for the murdered women and yellow for the missing. I decided I would be holding them close to my heart while I take my stand on Thursday, so that their memories will live on.
In the early morning hours on Thursday, I began dreaming very vividly. I became fully aware of my body, as if I was awake and the sun was shining through the windows in the room. And then I watched a beetle with a pale shell and little black spots crawling in front of me. Before I knew it, it was being dropped into my ear as I laid on my side, facing the sun. I woke up with a start, sitting straight up and trying to brush it out of my ear. I realized how surreal this was — unlike dreams I’ve ever had in my entire life, in that it was so real, it turned into waking action. I thought about this for a moment before laying back down on my side. As soon as I closed my eyes, I heard a voice telling me that beetles are the bearers of misleading messages. I opened my eyes, taken aback by what I had just experienced. A vision that I did not yet understand the meaning of.
Within a few hours, I was tying the bandanna to my face in the back corner of the bus, pulling my gloves on as I approached the rear door. I stepped out and felt a surge of energy rippling through my body. I began crying and shaking as I walked to the corner, pulling my sign out. I stopped for a moment to think of what the roses in my left hand meant. I stepped out to the very edge of the curb, and with an eagle feather in my right hand, thinking of Theresa Spence, I unfolded my sign and did not move off that spot on the sidewalk for two hours. Tears welled up in my eyes, and my breath felt different. My body shook with grief, and as I opened my eyes, a female police officer was staring me down from a passing squad car as it creeped through the intersection in front of me. Shame on you, I thought. Shame on you for that scowling glare. Shame on you for your apathy towards these missing and murdered women. Shame on you for getting angry at me while the whole world learns about the depth to which you and your coworkers just didn’t care. Shame on you for taking this as a personal insult.
People who approached me from my left were genuine, compassionate, and supportive. People who approached me from my right were hostile, disingenuous, and dishonest. People offered me help and empathy to my left and spoke in daggers and barbed words to my right. I suddenly realized what the vision about the beetle in my ear was about, as it was in my right ear that it fell.
As the second police vehicle passed me, with more cops staring me down while I stood there alone, it occurred to me to consider the monument I was standing in front of. A monument to war veterans. From the side of the street to my right, the cenotaph declares “Their Name Liveth For Evermore”. From the side of the street to my left, it reads “Is It Nothing To You”. I thought about the strength all those women had within them. I thought about how they put their lives on the street day after day, and how their deaths have incensed the warrior within me and many others like me. I thought about how this country was created, how veterans put their lives in the line of fire defending it, and how the very government they were fighting for with their lives has disgraced their memory and their sacrifice by treating the First Peoples like garbage — waging a war against the people who defended the land our nations are built upon. This isn’t what veterans were defending.
I think of all the missing and murdered women from the Downtown East Side as warrior women, and I think of their deaths as entirely preventable casualties of a centuries-old genocide against all indigenous peoples. They weren’t murdered by one man — their blood is on all our hands. All of us who didn’t listen. All of us who avoided the Downtown East Side, where these women all disappeared from, because we think of poverty as some sort of contagion and the poor as some sort of rabid species other than human. All of us who do nothing to learn about the history of the ground we stand on, or the culture it gave to the First Peoples whose ancestors walked on this territory. All of us who didn’t take heed when the 67 pairs of shoes were dumped on the front steps of Vancouver City Hall, and who just accepted on blind faith that Vancouver Police Department was telling us the truth when they said there was no serial murderer out there. Many of us share a much larger proportion of that burden than those who were being trampled down by poverty, illness, or trauma while all those women kept going missing.
And then today came. December 21st, 2012. The Mayan calendar predicted that this day would be the end of the world as we know it, and a synchronized heart beat drumming ceremony took place all across Turtle Island to ring in the spiritual renewal of this new age. I brought my drum and as I was striking it to the pulse of the Earth that spoke through it to me and all the other drummers, I felt past, present, and future all align together and happen as one moment. This is just the beginning.