There’s a story Randy Kakegamick tells about the neglect he faced as a child.
It was late one night and his mom was out so he took off wandering the streets of Ottawa.
A drunk man chased him into an alley and attacked him thinking his bag of white cookies was cocaine.
He was eight-years-old.
“It’s forever instilled in my head being attacked by a grown man; being a little boy. I woke up in a pool of blood and I ran,” said Kakegamick, 42, showing the scar over his left eye.
The Ojibway-Cree man never stopped running until about three years ago.
He was in jail, a familiar place for most of his adult life.
When he got bail he went into the LifeHouse program at the Ottawa Mission that helps adult men get sober.
It wasn’t easy.
He had been drinking for years.
“I went for a cigarette there’s somebody drunk right there,” he said.
He didn’t break.
“I just had to look toward where I was,” he said.
And where he didn’t want be.
From there he set out on a journey to stay sober and has been ever since.
He soon realized some of the demons chasing him weren’t by his doing.
He explained this last winter to a class of students in a social working program at the University of Ottawa where he was brought in as a guest speaker and invited Nation to Nation, which has been following his journey over the last year.
“All of the it dawned on me not ‘till I’d say two-and-a-half years ago.
I didn’t know about all this until I tried to thoroughly think about the impact residential schools had,” he explained to the students.
Staying sober means ignoring that dark passenger.
“It’s always patiently waiting,” said Kakegamick.
It’s up to him to ignore it, just like it was to stop drinking in the first place.
No one can do it for him.