There's a story I'd like to tell.
Last October, there were five us women that travelled with the Aboriginal Veterans to the War zones. We went to Normandy and Belgium and France. We saw all the places that our soldiers went. We travelled with them, with the War Veterans, the Metis, the young people - the performers and care takers. It was such a privilege to be travelling with the War Veterans. They appreciate so much, that they're still alive and they were able to show us where they were and what they did. There were some sad memories for them and we cried with them. We were at Vimmy Ridge, also.
When they were setting up their lodge deep into the woods, where they were having ceremonies - the spiritual leaders. Behind the trees, not too far from them, the animals started coming. The eagles were flying overhead, not only eagles, but the hawks. They kept coming close, there were all kinds of animals coming close. They could even touch them if they wanted to. They didn't bother them, so they just stayed there and looked at what the Native People were doing. It seems they were glad to see them.
Our duty, the five women, was to perform. Before we left Sydney one of the Korean War Veterans brought a pipe to me and asked me to smoke it with the other spiritual leaders. I wasn't privileged to do that because they were all well-known pipe carriers and they were all picked to go there.
There were a couple of men from Shubenacadie. One of them was Joe Mike, a young pipe carrier. I asked him if he would do the pipe for me because I was asked that every time there was a ceremony, for us to put a little bit of tobacco in it and close it up until the next ceremony, and not to smoke it until we bring it back to our reserve. And for that pipe to be smoked at the monument and to be put away, it'll never be smoked again. It's going to be in the Heritage Centre, or Veterans' Building, I don't know where, but I think it's put away already.
This war veteran brought it to me and asked if I can do it. I felt I wasn't worthy enough to do it, but I said that I would take it and I'll find somebody to do it and he said "No, you have to do it." I took the pipe and my daughter-in-law, she's from Big Cove, she has dreams all the time. She said "You have to smoke that pipe," she said "because when we celebrate with the Veterans there's always a young man going around crying. He thinks he's still alive, but he's not, and his buddies are all over the place - some of them are dead, some of them are wounded. He's trying to help them, he's running around, he can't help them, he can't find anybody to help. Maybe this would release his spirit." She knew for sure that it will. She said "You have to smoke it."
We took the pipe and gave it to Joe Mike and he did exactly what we told him to do. We travelled with the veterans and we performed for them. When they were having the ceremonies, Joe Mike was with them, we weren't with them. They seperated us sometimes. There was only just this one time we were with them.
When we were coming back, we saw Joe in Lily, France and he said "I have to give you back the pipe," he said "I don't know what's wrong, I'm getting scared, funny things are happening to me." He said "I was carrying my father's army jacket with me and there's a button missing. When I came back from supper one day, there was a button there and it looked exactly like one of the buttons that was missing, like the others. That was alright, I knew there was something wrong, not wrong, but that something special was happening. The next day, my wife, when I left home, wanted me to bring home a cross for her and we never had a chance to shop anywhere, we were all so busy. When we stopped in Belgium, this old lady comes along and she gave me a St Benedict Cross. It's about this big. Then I knew, because my son is very sick, he's got cancer and my wife wanted that cross so much." Another thing happened, there were three things that happened to him.
He said "I'll have to give you back the pipe." I said "OK", but he never had the chance to give the pipe back to me until, or did he give it back to me in Belgium?
Katy McEwan: No, he gave it back in Ottawa
In Ottawa. The girls that were travelling with us were all non-natives. A couple of them, before we went to the senate, a couple of them got scared. One of them said "I'm hearing voices, I'm hearing lots of voices and they sound like Native people because I can't understand them." She had been crying and we didn't know what to tell them. Yhe other girl, she's a younger girl, she said that she's hearing drums every night. She said that she was hearing drums. Katy and I did our pipes and we realized that they're travelling with us, because that was bringing the boys home that had been killed over there, we were bringing their spirits back. They were glad that they're travelling with us and that they're coming home with us. We told the girls, the ones that heard the drums and heard the voices and they were so happy after that and they were crying.
When we got home, one of the girls that was travelling with us, she heard voices and she heard the drums almost every night. We didn't smoke the pipe until November 11, that morning, early in the morning. Joe Mike came from Shubie, he came around 5 o'clock in the morning. I gave him breakfast and we called Katy, and my son, and George Smith, and we went to the memorial and we smoked the pipe. Then during the meal, gave it to the chief and told him what happened and he said that he'll put it away and it'll never be smoked again.
That's the story I wanted to share.