It’s only been a few hours since I got “The Call”.

“Hello Jesse,… What did you want me to call you for?”

“John Fisher was killed last night by a drunk driver. He died instantly”

I met John years ago. First at a sweat and then at our Sundances. He is not Native but his heart is as big as the person we all look to, to help out when we need an extra hand or someone to watch the fire or just someone to surprise us with a coffee from Tim Horton’s. But mostly for a smoke. He always had his smokes handy.

I don’t even really smoke but I always liked sitting with him and having one of his smokes.

He said: “It was your cousin Bradley Crowchild who help me stop drinking and sober up. I have always owed him a debt since then. Don’t know if I will ever be able to pay it back in full”

John worked in mens’ Halfway Homes around the city as a counsellor of sorts or as a lifeways navigator for men who were just trying to navigate their way back to a world that made sense for them.  He told me that I should try doing his line of work. “It is rewarding you know”. I knew I could never do that work but always wished him luck.

” I have too many cousins in that system John. They will all be hitting me up for smokes and I don’t even smoke”.

One time he asked for help at the Sundance. His daughter was really struggling and he wanted to help her but he felt that he needed extra help thru prayer and song. He pledged to fast for a complete day and just pray. He sat in one place all day and just held unto his own pipe and true to form he just prayed.

When my own brother died John came out and just sat at the fire and watched it all night without uttering hardly a word. It was bitterly cold and the wind had a bite but he stayed and just watched the fire burn…. deep in his own thoughts.

Finally the day came when he said: “Lee I am gonna retire to the west coast. Found a pretty good place to live. You come out and I will take you salmon fishing once I know how to drive a boat”….

He writes to me on Facebook from time to time and the invitation is always there to come out and “lets sweat out here”.

John was really a craftsman of many skills. I will always treasure the pipe tamper he made for me.

There is nothing but my full respect for my friend John Fisher. Now you can visit with my cousin Bradley all the time now, John. I will stay here for awhile yet.

Your Sundance family will sing songs for you for the next few days. Travel well…

From November 27, 2013

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