Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Burns Lake/Tyendinaga Haudenosaunee Longhouse

The fire at the mill in Burns Lake was so saddening to follow this week. The fire killed two peopke, injured 19 others and the destroyed mill is the main employer in the town. The image of the back of people hugging each other, as they stood outside awaiting news remains with me. The size of this province means that sometimes these stories, that in a regional sense are up the road, remain distant from us. I always have a hard time resolving how the physical size can lead to an emotional indifference or resignation.

Concurrently another story on the other side of the country caught my auditory attention this week. The story of the Tyendinaga Haudenosaunee Longhouse (Mohawk Territory, Ontario), explained in a CBC radio interview, was both moving and invigorating. The Longhouse was burned to the ground in 2009 in an arson attack. The community and communities surrounding came together and through donations of materials and labour rebuilt a new Longhouse. I think the descriptions of people labouring together over a few days moved me the most. The was something in that collective physical gesture to raise it back up. Expecially given the high level and diverse skills that people volunteered and the breadth of the materials donated.

Here is the Facebook link with photos and details of how you can donate if you are inclined.

One of my first jobs in Canada was at the First Nations Longhouse in UBC.

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