When will it Stop?

I am writing an article about a specialized vocational program offered in a neighbouring community. I called the instructor to ask some preliminary questions and to set up an interview. I asked how many students he had.

“Five, but now only four,” he said. “I used to have five students, but one is in jail. He will be there for a long, long time.”

I didn’t press for an answer, but he continued anyways.

“His wife, they had to helicopter her out. I saw a picture. Her head was like a black and blue soccer ball.”

I do not know violence, except for what I’ve seen on TV. I have never seen adults hit one another.

I realize that statistics for violent crimes and abuse in northern, isolated communities is higher than the norm. I hear about it, but haven’t seen it yet, and hope I never will. Where does this happen? What is behind the shy smiles, the softly spoken Cree language?

The first week Andy arrived, there was a horrific head-on car collision, a suicide and a fatal beating. For the latter, two friends, after an evening of drinking and taking drugs, began to fight. One was bludgeoned to death. It was a closed casket service, as the body was unidentifiable.

Recently, at the local court, a young woman was called before the judge. She had been fighting with her boyfriend. When the boyfriend’s brother tried to intervene, she took a knife and stabbed the brother in the chest.

“What will happen to her?” I asked.

“She’s in the process of apologizing to family members,” was the answer.

On bulletin boards around town, there are notices for meetings for “Survivors of Residential Schools.”

Many adults of the community are still experiencing the trickle effect of residential schools. Children were removed from their homes and communities and sent to these schools. Did the lack of a nurturing upbringing create situations where parenting skills, which would have been acquired in a loving home, were somehow lost?

Alcohol? I don’t even know where to begin on that topic, except there must be a reason for dry communities.

Is it unusual for a small town, such as here, to have a bouncer at the local Tim Hortons?


4 thoughts on “When will it Stop?

  1. Such violence isn’t happening on reservations only. In 1975 I co-founded the first woman’s shelter in Pointe Claire. It was filled to capacity almost always!
    The kind of violent behaviour you describe in your article is horrific, however, it is part of all societies. Just think of the Shafia case in Kingston where a father drowned his first wife and three daughters!

    • Violent crimes may be statistically higher in remote and northern communities, as well as suicide, but you are right, it happens everywhere. It is still something I have a very hard time getting my head around, thus the many questions.

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