I believe every city has an East (or West) Side story. Places forgotten by God, stations to nowhere, a limbo for those unfortunate people before the last stop: Hell. These places are often segregated, contained in a space where people are warned not to go, away from tourists, “no cameras please,’’ letting the tragedy go on undocumented so we can remain blind spectators.
We as a society condemn those who fail, those who do not live up to our expectations or our rules. When we can write them off we feel better.
How will I tell my mother I am afraid?
Cantico is a silent prayer. We don’t have to understand to give hope, is a right to which every human being is entitled.
You who can hear, teach me an alphabet different from that of my cowardice.
VANCOUVER Downtown East Hastings, The Story and the Legend
When you decide to take a walk in this part of town, be aware and conscious of reality. This is not a stage, this is not another movie. This is a living tragedy.
Many years ago, this was a forest with special trees that the Indigenous peoples collected to make paddles for their canoes.
They crossed the inlets and the rivers, living in harmony with nature, until our ancestors came.
The Indigenous peoples were exterminated, the forest destroyed, and a port was built for trade and commerce.
Their bodies and dignities were buried under the bloodstained soil, but their spirit survived and remained as a guardian, casting a spell and a curse on the place.
Anyone who came close would fall into desperation, devastation, sorrow and pain, and there would be no way out.
This is a story and a legend, yet if we walk around this place the legend comes alive. If we can look beyond the empty eyes, if we can stand the stench and the state of perdition, we should ask ourselves: Why, when and how did we let it happen, and could we have prevented it?
These lost bodies and souls belong to our society, they are us, our kin, our neighbors; and yes, we are responsible, because we share the same soil, the same history, the same ancestors, the same rights, the same wrongdoing. Are they cursed by a spell?
Can we free them by recognizing past injustice, by returning nature to nature and trees to the Spirits to rest in peace?
We may not believe in spells and magic, stories and legends, but sometime this is what dreams are made of. If we are prepared to be reconciled under a blanket of harmony, our children one day will not be ashamed to listen to the Spirit stories and the legends whispered among the trees.