This article was written by Elaine Creighton-Fox
Unprecedented times! 2020 and into 2021 has seen one of the world’s most historic global events. Yes, we are still on lock down due to the covid 19 virus and staying home. Masking up and washing our hands is becoming the norm. A cousin of mine, who shortly before his death left a last text message to his dad with the simple statement ‘everything happens for a reason’. Reasons? What is the reason for his untimely death? So young and his death so unexpected. What are the reasons for a global pandemic? What are the outcomes? Where do we go from here?
First on the issue of death, my Elders taught me we all have a time marked for the end of our journey and then we return to the Spirit world. While this is a known truth for all humanity, my question is, is it part of destiny that at certain times mass numbers of humans die? Before we come to our journey on earth, do we make a pact with our maker or in my case as an Indigenous person, our Creator? This last question may seem unrealistic to academia and their scientific beliefs, that ‘seeing is believing’ is the reason for all world phenomena. As an Indigenous person, coming from a very Spiritual belief system, meaning we are in existence with all life forms, each other, the two legged and four legged, the winged ones, and elements of mother earth, the air, waters, mountains and earth itself, I believe otherwise.
I ask these questions because at some point we stop. We stop when we realize that globally we are impacted by an anomaly and huge masses of people have died. We stop when we accept the fact that this is not ending and we do not know when it will end. This leads us to questioning our own ‘end’. Am I to be a part of the untimely deaths due to legacies of colonization? Or am I to be part of the masses of people succumbing to covid 19? Either way, or whenever I complete my earth journey, I want to leave behind some observations of today’s unprecedented times, and perhaps make some sense of what has been happening. It is to be noted that I do believe in what my Elders taught me, we are Spirit beings, we have a brief time on earth, we have four (4) gifts we come with, we are to use these four (4) gifts while on earth and then we go back whenever we are called back. Whether we complete our purpose, with the use of the gifts or not, is part of the mystery of life. But embedded in the purpose, is number one, be kind to other humans while we are here. That kindness means helping one another.
Prior to covid 19, my Tribe, the Blood Tribe was in the midst of an opioid crisis. Overdoses were at an all time high and our health department was in the throes of mass interventions to address this crisis. We had a safe injection site, naloxone kits were being distributed, curfews were put in place and a war against drug dealers was going on. We were losing many of our young people to overdose and there seemed to be no end in sight. This opioid crisis affected many other service providers of our Tribe, including Children’s services as they were responsible for orphaned children. A new norm of grandparents raising their grandchildren was happening and the C.O.P. (Children out of parental home) funding was being depleted early in the fiscal year. So as you can see, our Tribe has been ravaged with not only an ongoing opioid crisis, but then covid 19 comes into the picture. One begins to question the cause of this phenomenon. Is this part of the evolutions of colonization, the end stage legacies of residential schools? In addition to the overdoses and deaths, our Tribe has also seen an all time premature mortality rate within the last few years. Thirty years or so ago, our average annual death rate was 5 to 7 deaths per year. Today we are at 75 to 80 per year. My daughter and I reviewed all the deaths of our members, by pulling the information from the Cardston Legacy funeral home for the time period of October 19, 2020 to January 7, 2021, and calculating the numbers and ages of our deceased members. There were 37 deaths in a matter of two months with the average age of death at 45 years old. This is not even including the obituary information from the Cornerstone Funeral home here in Lethbridge, nor the Eden’s Funeral home in Fort Macleod, as our Tribal members and their families also utilize these services. These deaths are not only from overdoses but our members are also dying from cirrhosis, cancers, debilitating arthritis, diabetes. We are having young people aged 24 to 35 dying from cirrhosis, a disease that normally affects people much older. So, yes I feel I am witnessing the generational legacy of a people whose land, language, and culture were disconnected. Were these deaths offerings, to restore balance worldwide?
Back to covid 19. What was the reason for this pandemic? Incidentally, it needs to be mentioned here, that our Tribe has only lost two members (elders) to covid since its inception last February 2020. Many people believe in conspiracy theories. I personally do not. How can a human or humans predict such outcomes of this virus that has affected humans worldwide. The largest hit demographic is the elderly population. Not only has this virus taken thousands of elders, it has also exposed the abuses of some unsafe senior homes. This virus has brought attention to the plight of the elderly and caregiver abuses towards them. I find this abhorrent and I am happy these home providers were exposed and governments seek to improve the conditions of these senior homes. I also believe that humans have been and continue to destroy earth, and these viruses come from the earth and perhaps this virus was karma and a way of cleansing and restoring some balance. Perhaps we will be kinder to each other and to mother earth. In closing, we need to remember that all these deaths, they were someone’s family members. Take a moment to send a prayer to the Universe for them. Until next time, Grandma Lane…