The Plane Truth

Bush plane circled remote village
One Fall morning
Dogs barked and howled
No one had seen an airplane.
Elders watched as it landed on the lake, and
Came to shore, flimsy door opened,
Two men got out, a priest and an Indian Agent,
Villagers were out
Standing, touching, looking,
At this strange flying machine, except
Grandfather, he had spiritual connections.
They walked to the band office
Said they were here for five children,
They have to go to mission school, it is law.
The stern priest called their names.
The little ones were brought out of hiding.
They clung to each other.
Indian agent and priest,
Forced them onto the cold plane,
Kicking, screaming, crying,
Near death from fear of leaving,
Flying, the unknown, and loss of family,
In their language they called for their parents
But, pleas were drowned out
From the starting motor
The machine came alive, and
Started moving across the lake
Soon, the motor roared,
As it raced across the water, and
Took off into the sky
The children wet themselves from fright
One never spoke again,
Their fear was unimaginable
The oldest boy bravely peaked outside
The little window,
He saw his village and family,
Slowly starting to disappear,
He would battle alcohol his whole life.
The pilot made unnecessary manoeuvres
Designed to scare the children
Who huddled in fear,
Crying, staring into each other’s watery eyes
They saw grandfather, saying you are not alone.
The holy men laughed at the sight of them.
Soon they landed on another lake.
Priests and Nuns met them, to
Take prisoners to the concentration camp.
The plane continued its journey,
It roared indignantly across the lake,
Disrupting peace and tranquility of ancestors
The flying machine circled, and
Headed towards the mountains,
The plane began to sputter, lost its thrust,
Became silent, and crashed into the mountain.
Both perished in a fiery death.

The children were separated, deloused,
Showered, given a number, and
Sacred hair cut short.
Traditional clothes discarded,
Exchanged for European ones.
Grandfather’s protective necklace
Cast into the fire and cursed.
Children punished for speaking their language, and
Trying to stay together.
They planned to meet by the lake,
After lights out, this place was dangerous, and
A priest was coming for the youngest tonight.
The Canadian Geese had begun to arrive
It was cold, snow was starting to fall
Soon the children huddled on shore.
They could hear yelling from camp,
The priest came early, and
Found he was not there…

Boy said we must follow the railroad tracks
It is far brother; others tried and froze to death.
Dogs barking and people yelling obscenities
We can’t go back, grandfather came to me
In a dream, I am following his instructions.
An old gander appeared saying:
Children mount us, hold our necks,
Burrow deep into our feathers,
We will take you home, grandfather is waiting.
The Canadian Geese flew in formation
Circled the evil below, heading towards the village,
Wood stoves burning, smoke drifting above
Tea and bannock awaiting the arrival
Of stolen children, taken on medal wings,
Returned on feathered ones,
To waiting arms of family members
Grandfather waved, they honked,
A flight of Angels…

Charles has been a social activist for 35 years. He can be reached at : Read other articles by Charles.