Farewell to A Dene/ Cree Warrior

James and his brother, Joe

Goodbye to a warrior!   James Desjarlais July 26 1980- August 2 2022

If you had the good pleasure of meeting my nephew, James Desjarlais (Horse) you would have met an amazing, kindhearted man.   He loved meeting new people and was accepting of all people. He enjoyed learning a few words in the language of the people he met. He could say greetings in at in at least a dozen different languages. 

He was his mom, Rose’s protector, the baby of the family.

Early in the new year, when his mother was in the St Paul’s hospital in Vancouver recovering from COVID he visited her daily, bringing her a rose each time.  A nurse I talked to said, I don’t know how James gets through security because he is not vaccinated, they wouldn’t allow him on the ICU floor, but somehow, he made it to the ICU and gave a rose to the nurse to give to his mom.

He was in a group of young youth involved in the Native Youth Movement (NYM), an activist group started with his brothers to raise awareness of Indigenous youth on the streets. In the 90s, James was a very sharp dresser.  It was as if he stepped out of a GQ magazine.  As his addiction took a toll on him, it became more challenging for him to buy nice clothes.  He had a strong work ethic and wasn’t afraid of hard labor. 


Horse, Joe, his mom Rose, niece and nephew. Winter, and Ohosis

In June of this year, he went to the traditional lands of our family. 

It was hoped that this experience would heal him of his addiction.   He was happy being there with his family.  He decided he wanted to go to treatment for his addiction and his mother, my sister Rose, drove him back to BC, to the treatment center in Kamloops. Sadly, he was turned away.  And now he is gone.

As is the case when we lose a loved one tragically and unexpectedly, we reflect on their life. I counseled my sister to not go down the road of wondering would he still be here if she had done this or that differently.  James’s life had meaning and purpose.  He loved and was loved.

As a writer, I have written too many stories of extraordinary people who have left us way too soon, and I search to look for meaning in their life.  For James I don’t have to look too far, he brought laughter and love to everyone he met, a gentle teddy bear of a man, with a smile that you had to return.    

When he began his journey into the spirit world his loyal puppy,Cobalio a Shepherd wolf cross stayed with him until his mother came to get him.  “Horse” will be remembered by his brothers, son, and mom and also many cousins, aunts, uncles, and nieces.  His memory will be cherished.

Aunty loved you James, and I am grateful you visited me one summer in my little piece of paradise.  God speed James. You were a beautiful soul. My face is wet, and my eyes glistened like stars in the night sky.  You walked softly on mother earth, gentle and loving, now you are our guardian angel, and we will feel you near when we need you most.  I am making a commitment in your memory to continue the work in the charitable Foundation I created to help people with addictions:  Seventhgift.cahttps://seventhgift.ca/

Ride into the spirit world, Your ancestors will greet you.
On the way to our Traditional lands 2022

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