Traditions

Traditions

Deep on the rez sat an old house, it had been there for 50 years. A house aged in its short history with many stories to tell. Today however, would be the beginning of a new story, one that begins in anger…

The door of the old house flew open and a young Josh Diabo stormed out, tears running down his face. He was quickly followed by his father Frank. “I’m telling you that you need to get a job,” said Frank. “How are you supposed to survive in this world if you can’t make a paycheck, huh?” “I worked my ass off for this family.” He yelled. “Even after your mom left…I still worked hard to put food on the table.”

But Josh determined spun on his heal, “I want to sing dad, that’s who I am. I want to share my stories with the world.” “You’re dreaming, how can you make money singing. Most singers I know barely make a living. Is that what you want to be, poor?” “I’m going to do what I want and you can’t change that.” he turned and ran into the forest. Frank called out to him but it was too late, the boy was gone.

Frank, frustrated and angry stepped back into the house slamming the door behind him.

Frank, tired, sat down at his kitchen table. He regretted losing his temper. A familiar voice broke the silence, it was Franks’s father Paul; “looks like you and Josh have a lot to say to each other?” “Look, Dad, I just want him to take some responsibility with his life, he’s not going to be 16 forever, he needs a real job.” “And sharing our stories is not important? Said Paul” “Dad I want him to be able to survive, to do better than we did, that’s all.” “So being happy and doing what you love isn’t a real job?” “That’s not the point.” “But it is, Josh is following his heart and that is something many of us were never allowed to do.” “What do you mean? Said Frank.”

Paul Diabo leaned back in his seat, pausing, he knew that he would have to share this story someday, he closed his eyes, after a few moments he began to speak……

As he ran deeper into the forest, Josh felt the ringing of his father’s voice in his ears. Running away had become a regular thing whenever he and his father fought. His mom left when he was just a child so it had just been him, his father and grandfather for the longest time. Eventually, he came to a fork in the path, wiping the tears from his eyes a sudden mist began to form around him and in that mist came a distantly familiar voice.

Josh took his first steps down the path where the familiar voice had come from. As he followed the path the voice became stronger, clearer, the mist led him to a clearing where he saw a man tending to a fire with a skin hut nearby. “I have been expecting you, said the man”. He looked to be in his 20’s, tall and well built, he reminded Josh of an ironworker. A job that many of the men in his community did, there wasn’t a bridge or skyscraper in the area that didn’t involve Mohawk ironworkers. They were known to be the men who were without fear. “What do you mean you have been expecting me?” “Well, Josh..you came down that path when people come down that path they often have a heart that needs some help.” Josh looked back and he could no longer see the path that led him here.

“I don’t understand, how do you know who I am?”

“I know you, Josh..because I was you once you, a man standing at a fork in the road trying to make a decision.” “What’s the fire for?” he asked “It’s for the sweat lodge. We can ask the spirits for guidance, and they can share their knowledge. It looks like you can use a sweat.” The man stripped down to his shorts and entered the lodge. “You’re welcome to join me, Josh, you might find the answers you’re looking for or you might not, it all depends on you.” Josh stood there for a moment, what was all this about he thought, after a few moments he disrobed and entered the lodge.

Back at the house, Paul began his story. “I was 10 when they came for the children in our community, they told our parents that the government had made laws allowing them to take us to schools to be educated. I remember crying when they ripped me from my mother’s arms, the RCMP was also there making sure no one got in the way. I remember one father being beaten up by the cops when they took his daughter. She was around my age so I tried to stay close to her when they loaded us onto the buses, I spoke to her in our language to try to soothe her fears, that’s when I felt the anger of the men on the bus. We speak English here not that dirty language, you better learn that quickly!

The bus ride seemed to go on for hours, it was near dusk when we eventually reached the school, I remember being hungry but that disappeared when I saw what was to be our new home. “The school itself was huge, I remember being terrified and missing my parents. The people that worked there all wore black robes and crosses around their necks. Most of them carried switches which they used whenever one of us stepped out of line like when we spoke our own language.

They finally fed us once we got inside, the bishop went over the rules while we ate, we were told to give up our savage ways and salvation was through Jesus. My friend Becky the girl from my community ended up in the same dorm. They constantly shouted at us, telling us that only God could save us from our savage ways. They cut our hair and cold showers, many of us cried when they cut our hair, I can remember the nuns saying how dirty we looked.

The first night we were forced to say prayers before going to bed if we refused we felt the switch. After awhile began to be that the nuns holding those switches enjoyed hurting us. Many of us cried that first night, I remembered how my Tota would share stories with me before bed and how sad she would be to see me with short hair. The first night I remember a nun come and take Becky away. She was brought back about an hour later, she was crying and I saw bruises on her face, the next day I asked her what happened, all she said was he hurt me. I remember asking myself, where the hell did they bring us.

In the lodge Josh sat across from the healer, he was familiar with the sweat lodge, his Raksotha (Grandfather) performed many sweats in the community, everyone was welcome whenever he poured a sweat. As he poured water over the grandmothers and grandfathers he asked: “Josh, please sing us a song to welcome the spirits of the 4 directions”. He handed Josh a drum, Josh hesitated for a moment. “How did you know…” “That you like to sing, write stories”? “Yes” “A little bird told me” he laughed. As Josh took the drum, a song he had been working on came together in his heart, it was an honor song for elders, elders like his grandfather.

For the first time in a long time Josh sang without any fear or limitations, he sang loudly and proudly so loud that the spirits themselves came to listen and pray. As the water fell across the stones and lodge got hotter. Tears filled the healer’s eyes for he had never a more beautiful song, filled with sadness, and pain but also a song filled with strength and perseverance. “The spirits have heard your call, they ask you that in order to achieve what you seek you must first lift the fear from your heart, this fear only holds you back. As the lodge got hotter, Josh asked the spirits to lift his fear and pain to take it away. And it was at that moment, that Josh received an answer.

Paul sipped on his tea, images flashed through his mind like wildfire, remembering the schools were taking its toll. He had never spoken about the schools before today, so much horror happened there. If those walls could speak, they would tell of the great evils committed by the people there. As he put his tea down “where was I. The first two years at the school were the worst, I was 12 now and the priests and nuns continued their acts of violence. Cutting our hair was pale in comparison to the beatings we got, I felt the sting of their switches several times a week but it was the attention of the priests and bishops that even to this day made me cringe. So many souls went through that place, I went through hell for 8 years” And when we finally left many of us had forgotten who we were.

Frank bowed his head, tears began to flow down his face. “How….how did you survive that place for 8 years?” “Many of us didn’t; some tried to escape but died trying to make it back to their communities. Tuberculosis was rampant in the schools which took many to the spirit world, even when they had to expand the cemetery they still did nothing. We weren’t even human in their eyes, hell the dogs were treated better.” Frank could feel himself getting angry, he knew of the schools but little of what went on there, to hear a first-hand account from his own father filled him with a sadness he did not know how to deal with. “What happened to your friend Becky?” Paul sat back, the question felt like a sharp blow, tears began to fill his eyes. “The sickness took her in our 5th year, I was there when she passed on to the spirit world. Her last words to me were..” “It’s okay Paul, they can’t hurt me anymore then she was gone……”

The heat of the sweat lodge had become almost unbearable but Josh continued to sing, the beat of the drum brought happiness to the ears of the spirit. The beats became so powerful that they travelled beyond the lodge and deep into the spirit world where the past, present and future became the one. At those same time elders from the distant past who were holding their own sweat began to hear Josh’s song. One elder said in traditional Mohawk, “this song, it calls to me, the singer is young but has a strong heart, he will be a great storyteller. “He lacks confidence said another elder.” “Perhaps we should join him said the third, his song is the story of our people in the distant future. Let us add our voices so he can finish the story.”

As the three elders began to sing, Josh felt his heart begin to grow, it was as if the Great Spirit herself had lifted the pain and doubt from his heart. At that moment Josh was transported to a longhouse, the three elders were there standing with him, all were smiling. One of the elders walked up to him and put her hand on his chest, “You carry our traditions young warrior, never forget who you are and never stop singing.” All three elders smiled at him and then they were gone. Josh was then transported back to the field he was in earlier, a familiar voice bringing him back to reality. “That was some sweat, huh Josh, did you find the answers you were looking for?” Josh smiled “Yes I did and I know now what I need to do. Thank you, sorry but I never got your name. “My name is Paul, and your father is waiting for you.” Then the mist swirled up and Paul disappeared.

Josh smiled and headed back to the house.

Frank leaned back in his chair, tears flowing down his face. He quietly watched his father as he stared out the window. When he finally spoke the words came out filled with sorrow. “Thank you for sharing that story I know it wasn’t easy but thank you. I now know why you told it to me.” Paul smiled. “It’s our traditions that make us who we are, they are the story of our journey, a journey of pain and sorrow but also one of perseverance and strength. Those men and women in black may have scarred me but they did not break me. Josh is just continuing the story and someday he will pass them on to his children and that’s how we continue. By sharing our stories, by remembering those souls like Becky’s, our stories will live forever.

Frank got up and hugged his father, he felt closer to him now more than ever, the story brought father-son closer. “I love you, dad!” “Love you too son, Josh is coming, go see your son.” As Frank turned to head out the door, he took one last look at his father, Paul smiled and nodded and then disappeared into the mist.” As Josh approached the house he found his father waiting, Frank smiled and spread out his arms and embraced his son. Josh began to speak but stumbled “dad…I” “It’s okay son, I understand that you need to follow your heart and no matter what I will support you.” Josh burst into smiles. “I have a new song for you to listen to, wanna hear it?”

“Sure, let’s walk to see your grandfather, I’m sure he would love to hear it.” They walked down the path to a clearing till they came to a headstone. Dusk was setting in and they could see the evening star appear. Soon the sky was filled with stars, Josh held up his drum and the beat began. Frank watched his son, as he saw the happiness his eyes a thought came to him…sing my son sing!

7th Generation pt 7

When Fred emerged from the alleyway his demeanour was not of a stone cold killer but someone just out for a stroll. This observation made Diabo very nervous. Diabo spoke over the radio, “Suspect as been spotted, move in”. He and Dawes got out of the car, and along with 4 other officers, weapons drawn, moved in on the restaurant. “Freeze! Fred you’re under arrest!” But Fred had other ideas, in a blur he leapt onto two the officers, throwing one through the restaurant window and knocking the other out cold with the butt of his own firearm. He then bolted back down the alley with Diabo, Dawes and the other two officers in pursuit. Fred ducked into the basement of an abandoned building as Diabo and the others charged after him. He fired off a few shots with the stolen weapon slowing down his pursuers before disappearing into the building. ‘He’s fast’, Diabo thought as he ran, ‘almost too fast’. The building was old and decrepit, a perfect place for someone to hide. Diabo motioned to the other officers to go around and cover the front.

Shots fired!” Diabo yelled over his radio. “I have two officers down, suspect has been seen entering an abandoned building on east Pender, we are in pursuit.”The voice on the radio crackled “Back up is on the way.” “Did you see how quickly he took down Johnson and Stephens?!” Exclaimed an excited Dawes. “This is our guy, no doubt about it. Should we wait for back up or go in? What do you think?” The look on Dawes face said it all. Diabo spoke into the radio, “Dispatch, we are going in.” As he and Dawes entered the building, a sense of foreboding came over him. This was new to him, he couldn’t escape the feeling that Fred was too much for the two for them to handle. The way he took out two of his officers with such ease left Diabo with a sense of dread. He felt that Fred was up there waiting for him. Floor by floor they searched but all the found was human waste and rats. The eerie silence was unnerving like no one had been in the place in years. By the time they reached the 6th floor, they started searching apartments one after the other. 606 was the last apartment on that floor, gently they opened the door. Like all the rest, the place was vacant. Diabo would have moved on but something caught his eye. A light under a closet door.

They cautiously entered the apartment. There was an old mattress on the floor but not much else. The two men slowly approached the doors with the light under it. The doors themselves were sliding ones. They each took a door and slid them apart. What they saw on the other side made everything worse. Drivers licences, the interior wall was littered with them. Diabo recognized the 7 from his case files but there were at least two dozen more nailed to the wall. “Jesus Christ!” Was all that Dawes could say. “Call it in, we need everyone on deck for this.” “Right away” responded Dawes, as he turned away to make the call. That’s when Diabo heard it, a thud, like a body hitting the floor. Diabo whipped around only to see Dawes on the floor unconscious with Fred standing over him, his eyes glowing red. ‘What the fuck’, he thought as he drew his weapon. But Fred was too fast, he knocked the weapon out Diabo’s hand and grabbed him by the throat. Hoisting him up like he was a rag doll. “You’re never going to stop, are you?’ said Fred, ‘You cannot stop me, his power is eternal and his revenge, never ending.” “What the fuck are you?” Said Diabo as struggled to breath. “I am a means to an end, one that unfortunately you are never going to see.” He then hurtled Diabo through the sixth floor window.

7th generation pt 6

Here is the next part of 7th Generation.
 
The following evening Diabo sat in a parked cruiser with Sgt Dawes waiting for Fred to come in to view. It had been decided that they’d wait until he had gotten his food before trying to apprehend him. “He’s suspected of killing how many?” “7 and those are the ones we know of.” “All of them were native?” “Yes.” “Why does he go after natives? There are so many other cultures here, Van city is a melting pot.” “Because people don’t care if an Indigenous women goes missing or is murdered.” “Really? I doubt it’s just about race.” Diabo just looked straight ahead, trying not to snap at Dawes, Fred had killed 7 women and right now he was the only thing on Diabo’s mind.
 
“Let me share something with you Dawes, I attended residential schools when I was a kid, they took me from my parents when I was just 8 years old; sent me to a place called the mush hole.” “Why they call it that?” Interrupted Dawes. “Because you were never the same when came out, the priests weren’t exactly the best care givers.” Diabo paused, remembering the evil of that place, the things that were inflicted on his brothers and sisters, the days filled with pain and the nights flooded with tears. “My point is Dawes is that we were taught to hate ourselves, taught that we were dirty, savage and godless when in truth it was those who ran the schools that were the savages.” They stole our children, raped our culture, robbed us of our very souls, they did this for over one hundred years and while they were screwing us they were spreading the same message to their own children.
 
The created the racism that we are facing today. And Shelly like thousands of others like her are the result of that racism.” Dawes reached over and extended his hand. “Detective, I’m sorry you went through that I really am, let’s get this animal. For Shelly and all the others.” As he shook Dawes hand, he saw him in a whole new light, it was a refreshing feeling and one he’d hope would last. A few minutes later Fred would come around the corner and that’s when all hell broke loose.

7th Generation part 5

Diabo walked into the Carnegie the next morning, it was a huge building on the downtown east side. A community center, it had become a beacon for those in the area trying to get by. Shelly worked in the sexual assault center and the woman Brenda Fergie Ferguson was her boss.“ “Everybody is still in shock, Shelly was a remarkable woman with a huge heart.” I Need to ask you some additional questions. Was she having any problems with anyone, boyfriends, coworkers, regulars?” “No not at all, she loved her job and she was single as far as I know. The only thing she cared about was her job. Why would anyone do this, she was so young and bright and full of life, all she wanted to do was help her people?” Why? The answer stuck in Diabo’s throat, he knew why, it was a question many Indigenous families had been asking for years. “I don’t know but I am going to find out. Leads are slim right now but could you tell me when you last saw her, what was her mood?” “The night she disappeared, she headed out around 7pm, said she was going to grab some food and then head home.” “There’s an Asian place on Keefer St that she likes to go to, it’s a couple of blocks away.” “Thank you, here’s my card, if you think of anything please call day or night.

The next stop for Diabo was the Chinese dragon, the restaurant that Fergie mentioned. The place looked liked it was well kept and he noticed that there were cameras. As the hostess approached he flashed the badge. “Det. Thomas Diabo Vancouver PD, can I speak to the manager.” “I’m the manger Valery Cheung what can I do for you?” I’m here investigating a homicide, do you remember seeing this woman (Showing a picture of Shelly) coming in here a few nights ago Yes I do, she came in here a lot, loved the food. She’s dead, what happened!?” “We’re still investigating, do you know if she talked with anyone while she was in here.?” “It was really busy that night, but I do know that she stayed for a bit, picked up her order and left.” “ The cameras do they work ?” “Sure come to the back office, I can show you the recordings.” As they headed to the back office I could tell that Valery was visibly upset, it seemed that Shelly like many times before had left mark and that her presence would be missed.

As Valery took Diabo through the footage of two nights prior, he couldn’t help but think about Shelly’s last moments. An Indigenous woman who loved her job, loved helping people going about her day not knowing that it would end tragically. “There she is!” As Valery broke through his thoughts. There she was, on the screen like a ghost coming back to remind us that she was not to be forgotten. Everything on the screen seemed normal except for the man in the corner who was seated almost out the cameras range. “Who is that, do you know him?” “That’s Fred, he’s another regular, not very chatty.” Fred seemed to be looking intently at Shelly and sure enough he followed her out about a minute after she left. “Valery, has Fred ever been in here when Shelly was here, did he ever try and talk to her?” “Once, but she shot him down which was weird because he didn’t normally talk to anyone at all. She him told she wasn’t interested in getting involved with anyone and he seemed to back off.” “Does he come in here often?” “Yes, at least three times a week, as matter of fact he should be in here tomorrow night, he likes our Monday night specials.” Finally Diabo thought, a lead and in a few hours he could have a suspect in custody.

7th Generation part 4

“7?” Bertrand sat down at his desk, sweat starting form on his brow. Bertrand was part of the old guard of VCPD, a large man who made it a habit not to rock the boat and now because of this case the boat began to shake. “Yes sir, 7 victims so far and those are the ones we know of.” “And you want this case don’t you?” “Yes sir I do, we have a potential serial killer on our hands and he needs to be stopped before he takes any more lives.” “How’s your case load right now?” “What does that have to do with anything, this is a stone cold killer!” “I just don’t want us chasing our tales on this, that’s all and I can’t spare any extra man power.” Not surprising Diabo thought. “I can handle this!” “Then it’s yours, find out what you can and report back to me when you have something more concrete.” “Will do Captain, I may use Dr Palmer to help get through some red tape if that’s okay?” “Fine just get the job done!” When Det. Diabo left the office, he felt cautiously optimistic that his boss may have finally had his back. The case was his now and no matter how he felt at that moment he knew that he was about to walk into hell.

Thanks to calls made by Dr Palmer, Diabo had the personal effects of the other 6 victims within a week. They had all gone cold, the killer was a ghost. No prints, no evidence to speak of. All he had to go on were lists of the their personal effects which where he began. Each list had pretty much the same items, house/ car keys, wallet, credit cards, money but something was missing and just couldn’t put his finger on it. And then it hit him, he ripped open the box with Shelly’s personal effects until he found what he was looking for…car keys but where was her car and also where was her driver’s licence? He went through the other victims found that everyone one of them was missing their licence. Why, does he collect them? Souvenirs maybe? No matter what Diabo had his first lead, a slim lead but a lead nonetheless. Diabo got on the phone and called downstairs. “Sargent Dawes please.” “Dawes here.” “Dawes did you locate the victims car?” “Yea we did, we found it on Powell just off Main St.” “Where is it now?” “We towed it to the police impound and we’re waiting on forensics to finish going over it” “Good’ I need the report asap.” After getting off the phone with Dawes, Diabo now had a better idea of what happened to Shelly. Her body had been found in an alley just off east Pender st which was in the opposite direction of where her car was. Which means she had to have been snatched right near where she worked and that was the next place Diabo had to go.