Tribute to an Elder

A beautiful human being, old and wise, whose spirit grew ever stronger with each of her 92 winters of life, has passed away. Beverley Robinson – Morin – Von Baeyer was a one-of-a-kind human dynamic. I was privileged to know her and honoured to be allowed to share memories I had of her with her loved ones at her Celebration of Life service on November 11, 2013 at McGarry Memorial Chapel in Wakefield, Quebec.

I didn’t know Beverley very long but man, did she ever leave a big impression on me! I first met her 8 years ago at the Wakefield Library when I was there to read from my book of poetry “With the Wind and Men of Dust”. Poetry was one of her great loves and Beverley, curious to know what a First Nations poet was all about, sat in to hear me. As a result, we became fast friends. My wish now, is to do justice to her memory by telling you, my readers, about her.

Beverley went against the grain. For all who knew her, nothing more need to be said. She loved justice, real justice and condemned those who tarnished it with spin and outright lies. “Oppression” was the ugliest of words to her. The understanding and compassion she had for the underdog was the size of the sky. She knew that the pulse of the nation was loudest in the homes and dwellings of our grassroots community. The most precious thing about Beverley though was that she treated everyone with utmost respect. Many things were sacred to her and when someone intentionally disturbed any of her sacred beliefs in any way, then and only then did they lose Beverley’s respect. Hardline to be sure but her rigid stance was tempered by the softness of her big heart and she forgave at the first expression of real remorse.

Beverley loved the land. She had the ability to see the spirit of nature, to feel its energy and glory and was aware of all its healing powers. She would press the palms of her hands against the bark of a tree and make a request of the spirit within, to help her with something of bother to her physical or emotional self. “It always works,” she told me.

Beverley had an amazing way of bringing joy, hope, wonder and healing into peoples’ lives through the “reading” of their palms. Her readings were always uplifting to the person whose palm rested on hers. In the lines of their hands she saw the gifts they were blessed with at birth, but were laying dormant because of neglect and she encouraged these good souls to finally do something about it. She was a builder of dreams.

Beverley’s ancestors, after leaving Britain to settle in the “New” World of the Americas, pulled up stakes and headed north as British Loyalists after the American Revolution. Her people loved Canada dearly and brought with them to this great country an undying respect for First Nations Peoples. Beverley accepted wholeheartedly, that the First Peoples were true stewards of the land. And that the forests and rivers would surely die if the prayers, rituals and ceremonies of the First Peoples ever disappeared.

The wind where Beverley and her beloved husband Hans are now, does not caress their skin in the same way as it did here. It touches them like a veil whose fibres emit the songs and fragrances they loved so much while living on the earth. Beverley no longer needs to press her hands to the bark of the trees in the spirit land to retrieve medicine. She only extends her hands to them now in the way people would whose wish it was to hold the hand of an old friend who had stood in support of them through a crisis of life. I believe (as did Beverley) that she will be rewarded for her many good deeds and acts of compassion in this world by occasionally travelling here to visit her family and friends still living in the physical realm. Her spirit will nestle itself into the heart of a fox or other animal or bird and she will look upon the faces of her loved ones and see them with a clarity never experienced before. A blessing beyond compare. Beverley promised to visit me as a hawk. I fully expect her to do so!

Keep the Circle Strong,
Albert “South Wind” Dumont.

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