Society's Loss. Mrs. Dorocher, my dear friend and co-worker, gave me my first strong connection with the native community and my first insights into the difficulties native and Metis people face every day. Every time I saw other people dismiss her, it saddened me to think how much they were missing. Once I got to know Mrs. Durocher, I learned to look at all people more carefully.
When Ted and I first started farming, we truly depended on members of the native community to help us. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that the problems of alcohol and conflicting cultural values meant we couldn't plan on having their help every day.
Mrs. Durocher's nephew, Peter, was one of the hardest working employees we ever hired. He wasn't always available for work, but Ted made it clear that he was welcome to show up whenever he could, no questions asked.
Peter was a handsome young man, lean and athletic, with a neatly groomed moustache. He was strong, but also shared much of his aunt's grace and agility. I remember when the barn was being shingled, he would slip some nails between his lips and criss-cross the roof like an acrobat, hammering away. The others would struggle to keep up, pausing now and then to watch Peter in amazement. He was quick with a joke and got along well with everybody. Ted often said he breathed a little easier whenever Peter was on the farm.
Then suddenly, on day, Peter was gone. They found him alone in a hotel room, where he had choked to death. He wasn't yet 30.
When you read items like this in the paper, stop and think for a minute. When that person was born, he or she should have the same human potential as your own child. But somewhere, somehow, things went terribly, tragically wrong. I believe very strongly in personal accountability, but it would be foolish and unfair to discount society's role in deaths like these.
I wish I had the answers, but I don't. I try, in my own way, to accept people for what they are and help wherever I can. I just know that we can't afford to simply throw our hands in the air and lament that there's nothing we can do.
Every time our world loses a Peter Durocher, it loses a lot.