As I suggested in an early blog posting, I write far too many obituaries on rich white men. But the other day my editor at The Globe and Mail assigned me Noah Augustine, a Native rights advocate and Chief from Metepenagiag First Nation, near Miramichi, New Brunswick. He died on November 13th when his pickup truck swerved off the highway and hit a tree. He was 39.
Mr. Augustine’s list of achievements is long. It includes poet. You won’t get a chance to read his poetry in the published obituary, so I’m giving you a taste of it now. And I’ll just shut up.
The child of a burning Legacy
I was born on an Indian reservation, the child of a burning legacy.
I’ve fought battles no man has ever won, and lost like the rest of them.
I’ve fought the lion in the jungle, only to feed him his dinner.
I rallied the troops on prophetic words of wisdom, and they marched forward.
But, before the war even started, a warrior was found dead.
He was the only one not listening. I have since learned to listen.
I once claimed the discovery of a people, only to lose them myself.
I walked both sides of loneliness, and felt both sides of pain.
Battles perceived as victory are meagre tenets of promise,
until the battle is truly won. Battles perceived as failures
are the ironic triumphs of life, for the lessons of life
are understood only by those who know the difference.
I found a friend in loneliness, and we visited many places.
We heard power is now friends with the enemy of oppression.
The battlefield is quiet now. It is less a memorial to the carnage
of merciless victims and fallen warriors, than it is a lonely grave site
of valiant souls, lapsed from the consciousness of society.
And, the child of a burning legacy still dreams of the battle.