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Apr-01-2012 15:56printcomments

The Unhurried Dawn

And so I will continue to conduct the pointless rituals, and speak the passing words, on the corpses all around me, and I will not wonder on the purpose of it all. For, impossibly, death has never had dominion, and it never shall.

Emerging dawn
Photo courtesy: Kevin Annett

(NANAIMO, Vancouver Island) - The first dead Indian baby I ever saw was also the first one I ever baptized.

His name was Albert Gomez. That’s what his mom and dad called him, at least, because he died in the womb and finally emerged the morning I arrived at Port Alberni General Hospital to pretend to console the shattered couple.

As I approached them, Albert was wrapped in his mother’s arms where she lay in the hospital bed, and the dad hovered over the woman and child as if that would protect them. He looked up at me, dry-eyed, without speaking.

The woman was talking quietly to the tiny corpse, stroking and kissing its slicked black hair, over and over. She was the one to finally address me, with an infinite sadness.

“We want him baptized”

Nothing made sense to me. What was I to do: enact a pointless ritual to assure these poor, shattered people that something good would come of the death of their child? Take advantage of their agony by playing a role I didn’t believe in anymore? Speak of God in this godless moment?

Maybe the father sensed my doubt, for he squeezed my arm and reached for his dead son. The mother started crying as he leaned down, but she slowly relinquished her child, and then collapsed in sobs and wailing. The man turned to me and offered over the burden.

The baby was incredibly light, and so cold. Each feature on his body was unmarred, from the soft creases on his face to the tiny flecks of eyelashes and rounded fingernails. As in the life Albert would never have, the perfection of that moment would quickly fade, and perhaps for that reason, his parents wanted it somehow preserved by an act, even a gesture, that would be emblazoned on them like immortality.

“Please …” said the man.

Only to comfort them, I nodded and turned towards the large sink. I ran some water, wet my hand, and touched the icy little forehead.

“Albert Gomez, child of God” I said, “May the love which created you lead you to eternal rest, and bless you and keep you as the perfection that you are. In the name of God the father, the mother, the son, and the Great Spirit. Amen.”

And then I kissed him, and handed him back to his father.

I never cried for Albert, although I have for those many others like him. But my brief time with him marked me like no other moment, simply because the recognition of the futility of human action in the face of death diminished in me at the very instant when it should have been cemented in my heart.

I have no name for what caused such an unexpected easing of the void for me. But it has allowed me, ever since then, to be gently nudged by something, back from oblivion, whenever my own despair and savaging losses prepare to fling me into its pit forever.

What that mystery feels like, now, is another kind of light, a different, emerging reality, beaming slowly just out of sight, below our human horizon. And I feel its dawning warmth on me the closer I approach my own death; and the worse things get for all of us.

And so I will continue to conduct the pointless rituals, and speak the passing words, on the corpses all around me, and I will not wonder on the purpose of it all. For, impossibly, death has never had dominion, and it never shall.

Read the truth of genocide in Canada and globally at: www.itccs.org

www.hiddennolonger.com (includes documentary film Unrepentant)




A Canadian clergyman, Kevin Annett has for nearly twenty years led the movement to bring to light and prosecute atrocities in Christian “Indian residential schools”, and win justice for survivors. Expelled in 1995 from his former United Church of Canada for exposing murders in that church’s Indian residential schools, and persecuted and blacklisted for his efforts, Kevin is now an award-winning film maker, author, social activist and public lecturer who works with victims of church violence and genocide all over the world. In 2009, he helped to establish the five-nation International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, which is seeking to indict church and government leaders for crimes against humanity.

As a result of Kevin’s tireless efforts on behalf of native people, the Canadian government was forced to issue a public “apology” and reparations program concerning Indian residential schools, in July of 2008. In giving him the name Eagle Strong Voice in 2007, Anishinabe elder Louis Daniels declared, “Kevin Annett is doing what few of his people have done, and that is to speak about the crimes they committed against many of our nations and their children. He has earned a place forever in our hearts and history. He is a brave and prophetic man. I ask everyone to welcome him and heed his voice.” And scholar Noam Chomsky wrote in 2006, “Kevin Annett is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than many of those who have received it.”

For more information on Kevin and his work, contact him at hiddenfromhistory1@gmail.com, and see these sites:


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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