Word Prompt: Guilt | Story Prompt: from the book “Seven Fallen Feathers” by Tanya Talaga

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“The heavy cloak of racism, of a sinister motivation behind why the kids ended up in the water, seeped into the inquest proceedings and those questions remain to this day.

“We need to be certain that evil doesn’t exist and one way to deny it didn’t happen is to declare them accidents,” Falconer told the jury. “Racism is an awful, awful, awful thing. There is evil in the world. These parents are entitled to know it didn’t happen because good investigators did good work – or they’re entitled to the truth that we don’t know. The truth is, we don’t know. And you can’t . . . make it an accident by calling it an accident. There has to be evidence.”

The truth is, none of the kids were safe by the river but it wasn’t because they were drinking, Falconer argued. They weren’t safe because Canadian society set them up for failure as human beings. “We didn’t have space for them in our world and we didn’t make space for them in theirs,” he said. Without schools they couldn’t be educated in their world, so they had to leave to home here, said Falconer. “They died of flat neglect.” “

***

Background – MEC September 2017

Holding the camera up to her face, she is aware of a calming detachment taking place inside her. She frames the scene, bringing first the foreground into focus, then the background. This busy street where she lives is always so much more manageable this way, in frames. Once her stomach and thoughts have settled she snaps a photo. The snap of the shutter is a wink, a signal that all is okay.

Holding the camera like that, always at the ready with its’ worn strap around her neck, is her security, her safety. She pulls it up to her eye in any circumstance, any situation, and feels herself being transported out of the picture – out of her life. The camera takes her out of the foreground and into the background. It is her shield of invisibility.

She starts her day by picking up the camera from her nightstand almost immediately upon waking. She takes pictures of her clothing first, recording images into her mind of what she might wear. She sometimes stands at the window, taking pictures of the people on the street below, in order to help inform what her choice of clothing might be today. It is usually grey or black, or some combination of layers, but there are always styles and lengths to consider.

It is only with camera as guide and trusted friend that she manages to live, to survive in this crowded cold city, so far from the wide open emptiness of the prairies where she was born.

***

It’s funny how some people stay in love with the place they are born in, while others can’t wait to leave for something different. There’s a connection to place that I think is universal – although the circumstances for making connection with place can be quite unique. Sometimes, when we are lucky, we are able to make these decisions to go and live somewhere else, sometimes we are not so lucky and decisions are made for us or we must decide between the lesser of two evils. For me, even though I moved away from the place I grew up, it turns out that the place I have settled is very, very similar to that place – and I’m sure that’s why it feels like home. I was fortunate enough to be able to choose. How about you? Share your thoughts below!

Leave a Reply