"Alone" Chapter 10
Here we are again at the Fireside and I do hope you are comfy. I have a small fire tonight as it has been a cold day and the winds are howling outside. They are even calling for a snow/rain mix for tonight then we start back on the way to warmer next week.
Again we are going to spend a little more time with Iskwiw and her journey home. Thank you to all who have left comments throughout this story and the personal emails you have sent. They have all touched me.
If there is anything to take away from these Fireside chats I would ask that you take love and understand that you are loved. Here and away from here. Please do rest awhile and help yourself. My home is yours...
“The Journey Home”
We arrived just as they were calling our boarding time. Iskwiw was reluctant to let the girls search the bag she carried with her old clothing in it. I was able to convince her they were simply going to look and return it. It was interesting to watch her as her clothes passed through the airport scanner. She was sure that something had been taken. She grabbed the bag and placed it under her arm, shuffling off in the wrong direction. It took a minute to catch up with her and get her turned around.
What had I gotten myself into with this airport renegade? They were calling for preloading and it was the same crew that had flown us down. The one Native girl happened to notice Iskwiw and they spoke in Cree.
The young stewardess made it a point to notice the new dress; Iskwiw blushed. The girl pointed at me and Iskwiw said something in Cree and they both laughed. I felt I was a brunt of some private joke. Later, in the air, I learned what the joke was. The stewardess had addressed me as the new husband. My shock must have been apparent because Iskwiw broke out in uncontrollable laughter.
The flight was direct to Whitehorse, and then we had to transfer to a small aircraft to get into Old Crow. Iskwiw sat quietly. As she looked out the window, I understood her unspoken prayers.
Later in the flight she took all the materials from the seatback and stuffed them into her bag. She considered them free. I smiled as she smoothed her dress out and gently took my hand in thanks for the gifts she wore.
Iskwiw was silent for several moments, and then started to tell me the story of her life. I sat and listened to a tale of the terror she had been through as a child. When she was nine the Church had taken her from her family to give her an education. She said it was really meant to take the Indian out of the children.
Seven children in her community had been removed and taken to a school in the south. Within a week Iskwiw had been raped three times by a clergyman: the head master at the school. She later learned the same fate had befallen the other children over that summer. She suffered greatly from the ordeal. As she shared, it opened old memories and she began to cry.
She had to go on a journey of forgiveness to get to the place of peace she found herself in that day. There had been story after story recently in the news about children just like her. The Government had allowed it to happen, trusting the Church to be responsible, yet the abuse had taken place in many isolated communities. The Church held the problem at arm’s length; often the perpetrators were simply transferred to other churches and never dealt with.
It caused a ripple effect that continued when the abused became the abusers and alcoholics. Bitterness and anger ran deep in the Native community. There was little satisfaction in eventually revealing the truth when a few cases were proven without doubt. The Church had denied everything at the beginning and it was far too late to have any significant consequences for the victims.
The only satisfaction people like Iskwiw had were that the truth had finally been told. The only healing they had been in Christ. Iskwiw shared her faith with all she came in contact with. She had been instrumental in much healing and sharing within her community. She felt it her calling to be a role model and she had been at the helm of many inquiries.
I learned she had taken a stand against the lies that were perpetrated. Later I found out she had secretly documented the dates and the times of all the offenses against her. Those scribbling’s of a child would later become the key in the trial and incarceration of the Clergy who repeatedly raped her and many others.
As the plane started its decent into Whitehorse, Iskwiw and I sat looking at the familiar terrain below us. I was able to make out Teslin Lake, one of the Yukon's largest.
I thought of the many times I had sought the far reaches of this lake. A body of water that size was to be respected. I had many fish stories to tell of my adventures there, but at the moment I had a wounded and special woman who had shared the pain of her past with me. I felt it was my calling simply to be with her as she completed the last leg of her journey home.
Work Horse of the North
Great aircraft and one which would take Iskwiw and I the final leg back to her home.
Link to Chapter 11
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