This is likely the hardest post I have had to write since starting out with this like 6-7 posts ago? I knew at some point I was going to have to write it, though it doesn’t mean it is any less difficult to write now, as compared to 4-5 years ago.
I’ve been fortunate enough like I have mentioned in the past, to meet many many ridiculously good people throughout my life, but even more so through my time spent in Thompson since 2010. Many of these people have been young people, who are facing what seems like insurmountable odds of having the opportunity at a really good life. With that in mind, they continue to plug away at life one day at a time and try to make the best out of the situation (s) that they are in or are facing.
This I believe was the deal for my friend Fletcher. Think of a young man from an isolated reservation, being taken away from his family and put in Thompson, Mb not knowing really what the future holds for him. Think of a teenage kid, confident and sometimes cocky, with a pretty hardened personality that only a select few people could get really close to. Now picture getting to know and hang around this guy for almost a year, watching and learning what makes him tick, what sets him off, what makes him happy, what his thoughts and feelings are and what kinds of things he does and doesn’t stand for. Imagine becoming his friend, being able to relate to being away from family and how hard that is, constantly wishing you were closer to help out. Think about this dude putting everyone else in line at home for you, making a deal that he could stay up for an extra half an hour and make popcorn and red rose tea and watch tv with you, only to fall asleep 15 minutes in. A person who you would drive with around town, who would crank new and old tunes and tell you how they applied to the life he was living. A person you would see from Tuesday-Saturday, who you would pick up from school and who joked around about weird dreams he had about his teacher with his teacher while outside having a smoke. A guy who would dance around, pretending like he wanted to throw down with you, who you let give you a couple body shots then make fun of him for his punches being so weak.
Now, imagine on a Saturday evening you get home from being out with your new, solid friends you had recently made since moving a year ago. You fall asleep but are awaken after just a horrible dream you had but can’t exactly remember. You fall back asleep but are awoken a few hours later, early Sunday, by a phone call from your boss telling you that the person that was just described above was just murdered this morning and you have to come right away to help the others with the rest of the kids. A horrible dream turned into something very real right away.
I’ve had a really difficult time talking about him for a long time, I honestly still tear up when his name is mentioned (though I am getting better at not doing this). I feel that it is important to talk about him though, to keep his memory alive and let other people know about him and the impact he had on my life. To a lot of people who read the newspaper articles of what had happened, he was a statistic here in Thompson and Northern Manitoba, but to the people who knew him, who really knew him; he was our friend, our bro, the guy you went to when you needed a laugh or to joke around. He was a piece of our family that we cannot replace. For everything that he went through in his short life here, for everything he endured, for all of the changes he was making in his life to become a more positive and influential person, for the times we spent together wherever it may have been, for him sharing pieces of his life with me and opening up, and for looking at me as a person not as a white person ( though he was one of two kids who gave me the name “the white buffalo” lol). All of these reasons and more are why this week and for the rest of my life, Fletcher McDougall you are my hero.
Your Bawd and Fam,