Former George Brown student wanted to help his people
“Kiowa was not a statistic, Kiowa was not spiralling, Kiowa was not devastated by life where he had no goals,” said J’net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth.
She was speaking at a memorial at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on Friday Feb. 19, a few days after Kiowa Wind McComb was stabbed to death outside a bar at Jane and Lawrence. His brother Sarcee Bear Lavalley was also wounded in the attack.
Andre Appleton, 35, has been charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder. Police are still searching for a second suspect.
“Kiowa had goals, he had a little whiteboard and he would tirelessly check off his little checkboxes and then have to wipe it all down and make a whole new list because he got through his goals,” recalled Sheelth who worked with McComb in his role as the Indigenous Youth Intern at the ROM.
“He lived a mere 20 short years, Kiowa Wind McComb, it’s just like a gust of wind that’s how his life was, but that gust of wind touched a lot of people,” said Ed Sackaney, a former elder at George Brown College’s Casa Loma campus. McComb had been a student in the carpentry program at Casa Loma.
“He was one of my favorite students because he was always in class, he left his projects there, and he got good marks.”
“But he said ‘I want a change, I don’t want to be a carpenter, it’s not for me.’
“So I said, ‘What would you like to do?’
“He said, “I’d like to do work like you do, care for our people, help our people advance.’”
One way McComb helped his community was through volunteering with the 7th Generation Image Makers, an art and mural program for native youth that he was exposed to as a teenager. It was at this program where he developed a passion for art.
One day, McComb called 7th Generation Image Makers program co-ordinator Lindsay Lickers to ask if she needed any help with a mural they were painting for the Pan Am Games Aboriginal Pavilion.
A powwow at the pavilion that day included a “potato dance” contest where two people have to keep a potato squeezed between their foreheads without dropping it as they are told to dance, spin and jump together.
When McComb heard about the contest, Lickers said his first thought was to find his girlfriend Lauren Lavallee.
McComb turned to her and said, “I’ve got to find Lauren! We’re going to win!”
Lickers snapped a photo of them smiling and looking intensely into each other’s eyes during the dance.
“Their connection was so evident in that moment, I couldn’t take my eyes off them, I can’t remember anyone else,” said Nancy King, who also goes by the name Chief Lady Bird.
When they heard of his death, Lickers, King and Monique Bedard, who goes by the name Aura, came together to remember him by making a painting of that moment that they then gave to his girlfriend.
“We got to experience him in that shared memory that the three of us have of him, which is our favorite memory,” said Aura. “Just seeing him and his partner and how much love they shared, and how connected they were, was just so representative of him as a person and his spirit, and everything that he had to offer.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the Nancy King (Chief Lady Bird) was a lead artist with 7th Generation Image Makers. She in fact no longer works there.
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