YELLOWKNIFE — After having acquired the necessary funds to get them to Yellowknife, Shar Williams and The Sober Crew held a rally at the Yellowknife Artists Co-operative’s (YAC) geodesic dome on Sunday, April 3. Organizers say the goal of the rally — dubbed, The Time is Now — is to bring awareness to significant issues among Indigenous peoples while also promoting unity and understanding.
Among the issues discussed by Shar Williams, the organizer for ‘The Time Is Now’ rally, as well as The Sober Crew who came out to chat and perform for the crowd of over a dozen spectators, were ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’, systematic issues, and Indigenous rights.
“We are not disposable,” Williams said. “We are still missing and murdered, and preyed upon, and brutalized.
“I lost my brother 18 years ago,” she continued, referring to her own story of where she came from. “When he was murdered, it was just swept under the rug. There was never a charge brought to anybody. Nothing was ever done, and everybody in that town forgot about him… it happens all over this country.”
“The only way we are going to start making some change is if we all unite,” Williams said. “We have to start learning more about each other, each other’s cultures, and that’s where the ignorance will end.”
As for The Sober Crew, made up of Clarissa Stevens, Daniella Blyan, Auggie Hunter, Robert Tatti, and Robbie Daniels, all had a chance to offer their own personal experiences and hardships while continuing to reinforce the importance of Indigenous culture.
“We are definite activists when it comes to Indigenous rights,” Auggie Hunter said. “Also, promoting culture in the cities, we want the youth , especially the youth, to know that their culture’s there.”
“It was really hard for me,” she continued. “I had to go through a lot of things that built me to be who I am today, but if I didn’t go through all those things, it wouldn’t have brought me to a group of people that mean a lot to me.”
“When I decided to sober up, I just knew that getting back to my culture was something that was going to help me do that.”
For Robert Tatti, another member of the Sober Crew, his decision to seek culture as a result of his battle with addiction.
“I couldn’t be around people,” said Robert Tatti. “I went to go clean up in Calgary and that was probably the best decision I’ve made.”
“All I knew was the addictions life,” he continued. “I was destroying other lives too, ‘cause I was active in addiction helping them be addiction.”
“They say ‘this is all that I know’, but everybody’s open to learn new things.”
Following The Sober Crew’s personal stories, drumming sessions, of which Tanya Snow offered her talents as an Inuk throat-singer, were also a part of the rally.
Furthermore, Michael Fatt made an appearance talked on his own hardships and struggles, of which he says he has 50 plus years of experience in.
“It was like the straw on the camel’s back,” said Fatt during his speech. “It just broke me down to tears and, finally, I asked for help.”
“I went out, I got treatment, I got sober,” he continued. “I did a lot of work on myself, I strengthened myself by going out and helping other people.”
After the peace rally concluded, Williams provided comments to Yellowknifer regarding how excited she was for the opportunity to share the message of awareness with those who could make their way out to the dome.
“This is amazing,” she said. “Every time we come to a different community it’s always so overwhelming for us, it’s so amazing, and we take so much home with us too.”
“It’s awesome. This was awesome.”
— Ethan Butterfield, Northern News Service