Jay Forman
 

No Return

The truth will be uncovered…

Lee Smith takes a dangerous detour from her cross-country trip when a prospector is found shot – and scalped – six hundred kilometres north of the Sleeping Giant in Lake Superior.

Tourism Canada didn’t ask Lee to include the Webequie First Nation in her series of travel articles, but she flies up to the remote Ojibway nation when a friend pleads for her help.

Blaze Suganaqueb’s grandfather has been taken away by the police and is their main suspect.

Blaze is convinced that he’s innocent. With her own father in prison for one murder he didn’t commit, Lee hopes this is a wrong she can right. She steps into the Ring of Fire, where sixty-billion dollars of minerals lie buried below the traditional land of the Ojibway – land that they have been the caretakers of for centuries but are not allowed to own, land now owned by the Crown, land that multi-national mining companies want to exploit and the people of Webequie want to protect.

It doesn’t help that one of the mining companies digging up the riches in the area is owned by her maybe-fiancé – diamond magnate, Jack Hughes. Lee leaves the six-carat diamond ring that Jack has asked her to wear inside its box and goes looking for the truth (while deliberately not telling Jack the truth about where she’s going and why).

It is through the Seven Grandfather Teachings, not just Blaze’s grandfather, that she learns the real truth.

From Mnaadendimowin, the buffalo, she learns to respect and admire all creation ...even the Nishnawabe-Aski police officer who has a major chip on her shoulder and the Ontario Provincial Police officer who questions why a serial killer’s daughter is involved in their murder investigation, and even the Texan hunters whose guns do more than just take lives.

Despite Jack’s disappointment over Lee not yet wearing his ring and Lee’s anger over what Jack’s company is doing to such pristine land, Zaagi’idwin, the eagle, love, still soars over them.

Then the killer tries to shoot it down.

The hardest teaching for Lee to learn is Debwewin, the turtle who represents truth. He moves slowly because he understands that the journey is just as important as the destination ... and moving slowly is something Lee has never been good at.

She paddles her canoe ahead at full speed, ignores Jack’s instructions to let the professionals handle the investigation, and must find inside herself all the bravery of the bear, Aakdehewin, when she becomes the killer’s next prey.

 
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Midnight Shine

Song quoted in No Return – Northern Man

Thank you to Adrian Sutherland and Midnight Shine for allowing me to share some of their words. The music they make brings hope and happiness to their Cree communities along the coast of the James Bay (Attawapiskat, Moose Factory, Fort Albany). May their inspiration reach far and wide. It certainly reached me.