Voices of La Loche.

“What are you taking pictures for?”, I heard in an unfriendly tone. I froze a little. It wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong but I did find myself in a Northern first nations town and was trying not to be disrespectful in any way. After explaining who I was she took it upon herself to give me her informal tour. “Welcome to LA! <hoarse laughter> That’s what the locals call this place…”

“In my language my name means butterfly.”
And so began my tour…

 

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“They put those up for the kids after the school shooting”.

 

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“Two of my brothers are in there. Died as kids.” I did not want to open any wounds with any kind of response begging an explanation. I could only look on sympathetically.

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“People stand outside the liquor and offsale stores at night. We call them zombies. They slowly walk up begging for money or booze to anyone that walks by.”

 

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“They call this (area) the bermuda triangle. People come drinking down here, and don’t make it home!” The three points on the triangle were a bar, a liquor store and another bar. When asked where they end up her reply was “The cops get em or they end up in another bed or on the street”.

 

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“I’m a wino.” <hoarse laughter>
Parting ways (she was heading to the liquor store), she couldn’t help but ask if I could give her money for wine. She asked even though she knew I was a doctor. With stubborn sincerity I explained I couldn’t do that for her, knowing it was for alcohol. Maybe I would have seemed more real to her if I had given it…

 

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“Where are you from?”. It is a simple enough question but it happens too often here. I wear very casual clothes, jeans and t-shirts. I suspect it is the color of my skin. I am in a huge minority in La Loche. People assume I am a teacher or in health care. When I tell them I am a doctor it is met with silence. I’m not sure what it means.

 

 

 

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“I love the land. I hunt and fish. It’s my home”. I had asked another gentlemen why he stayed in such a rough part of Saskatchewan.

 

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A health care worker told me, “I was going to leave years ago. I was stressed and couldn’t take it. But I stayed because I wanted to help the people here.”

 

Stay tuned for more.