I have found myself in many different situations during my life.
Some are funny, some terrifying and some just awkward. Years back I was working as a television news reporter. We were working on a story about a man with dementia being lost outside a northern community.
Police and volunteers were out looking for him. I was assigned to cover the story. A camera operator and I made the trip to look for the volunteers, who were on horseback. We drove up and down back roads, grid roads and roads that led to a farmer’s property.
We couldn’t find the searchers.
Finally I suggested we stop at a farmer’s house and ask if he had heard or seen any people on horseback. When we got close to the gates I asked the camera operator to go to the house.
“Why don’t you go?” he asked. “It was your idea.”
I told him if they see an Indian coming onto the property they are apt to pull out shotguns.
“Martha!” I could hear the farmer say, “Call the police; there’s an Indian approaching. It looks like he has a young white man hostage, and he probably stole one of those news vans.”
The camera operator understood, and he went and asked. This is an example of how things can be for me and other First Nations people.
Another time I was in a small northern town. I was standing outside a small strip mall when a very confused and distraught man approached me. He suddenly pulled a handgun and ordered me to give my money.
I told him I didn’t have any, but if he released me, I would go into the mall where there was an ATM machine. He let me go. As soon as he did, I booked it down the hall.
The mall had a security system where the doors of the stores automatically closed if one of the merchants pushed a panic button. I felt like I was in a horror movie where the bad man was after me, and I couldn’t get out.
Finally I found a store where the doors were still open. I immediately ran into the store and told the manager there was a man with a gun in the mall. We quickly closed the doors and hid behind the counter.
What I was thinking when the man had pointed the gun at me was to get myself out of the situation because it would only be minutes before the police arrived.
I also thought I would be the first to get shot.
“Don’t shoot the Indian,” I would have said. “I’m the hostage.”