An 2006 essay from a grade eight First Nations student in Sky Lake [cannot be named to due privacy issues]
It was the darkest day of the Ahoappa Nation’s history. And another story that lays buried in the darkest corner of unwritten Canadian history.
On a cold day nearly thirty years ago, a lone man, one of God named Reverened Walter Tillman, took the lives of an estimated two hundred Native Canadian parishoniers, slicing each one’s throat like sacrificial lambs before a Pagan altar. And, predictably, he escaped the clutches of the white police from Scanlon Creek and disappeared into a small town mist like the souls he sent into oblivion.
And what could bring a man to commit such a heinous act? It’s true, Tillman witnessed his wife’s death at the hands of a drunk driver from the Ahoappa nation. One could theorize that as Tillman held her twisted, battered body in his arms, a raging demon entered his heart, one that would blacken his racing heart and poison his trembling soul. The anger was only exacerbated when the young driver was exonerated by the courts, finally culimating with Tillman’s murderous rampage.
But the “why” doesn’t matter so much as the “what”. Two hundred fathers, mothers, and children lay in bloodied heaps between the pews of the Reverend’s church, in a place they would expect to find safety in a man they had come to trust. And in a sick, ironic twist, Tillman, like the young man that killed his wife, escaped punishment for his misdeeds.
With the Scanlon Creek police unable to hold Tillman for trial, our only hope was that he was whisked away and died alone many years ago. Only with that belief have the people of Sky Lake been able to try to get on with their lives and heal. Only with that belief could they come to terms with the evil that had befallen them and mend relations with Scanlon Creek.
But Jimmy Raincloud changed all that. With the recent discovery of his body outside Sky Lake, coupled with the wave of Native youth disappearing without a trace, whispers underscore the tense atmosphere between here and Scanlon Creek that Tillman could be back.
In some terrible way, always taking on a new, unpredictable form, Tillman will always come back.
Learn more about Walter Tillman and Jimmy Raincloud at www.richard-todd.com