On November 29, a sacred fire was struck to honour Lynda Chapman, who had died two days earlier from cancer. The fire helped to guide Lynda, who was Indigenous, as she began her journey after her death, and it was also a focal point for loved ones to visit and celebrate her life.   

In February, I told our mutual friend, Jenn Pfenning, that I would be interviewing Lynda and sharing her life story in The Community Edition. Jenn suggested that there should be support available, and I replied that Lynda’s husband, George Chapman, and Nina De Shane, an Indigenous Elder, would be on hand.  

“You need support for you. Vicarious trauma is real,” Jenn clarified, and she gave me the name of a counsellor I could contact.  

But I didn’t need to, because Lynda protected me. Before our interview sessions—which totalled more than six hours—she would call to warn me about the topics we’d be covering the next day, so that I would be mentally and emotionally prepared. In the midst of reliving her trauma, she was making sure that I had the tools to deal with it.  

Lynda had several words that she used to address me. First of all, “friend”, after our first few months of getting to know each other. This was followed by “brother”, to show appreciation to me for sharing her story. And finally, “bodyguard”. That was a nickname she came up with during her wedding to George in August last year. At 5’ 4”, there’s no way my diminutive body is going to protect anyone else’s, which is why the word was usually followed by her characteristic crackling laughter.   

I was honoured to be one of the fire keepers who ensured that Lynda’s sacred fire kept burning. The flames would crackle and snap whenever I added wood, cedar and tobacco, and the sound reminded me of Lynda’s laugh. I miss hearing it.  

Thank you for sharing precious moments with me, Lynda. Chi miigwetch, Lynda Bah.