The Kevin Annett I know
How does one describe a bright valiant soul like Kevin? I want to try. After all these years, I owe it to him.
I first saw Kevin at a riot. He was seventeen and holding a megaphone. The cops were shoving people around but Kevin was standing there unafraid and unbending, keeping his cool.
The scene looked kind of funny to me, an uninformed bystander. Here were all these long haired freaks going crazy outside the U.S. consulate, fighting with Vancouver's finest, and there was Kevin, speaking calmly, trying to get the cops to stop what they were doing and arrest the real criminals, the visiting Chilean dictators who'd just murdered 30,000 people. A strong, brave, passionate voice of good will and reason right in the eye of the storm. That was Kevin.
I'm one of those, I guess we're the majority, who love bright souls like Kevin from the sidelines because we're too afraid to risk what he does and face what he's endured through his life just for being who he is. Just because we lack his valor doesn't make us love him any the less. But for a long time my cowardice made me afraid to approach him. When I did I was even more impressed. My admiration for him has only increased over the years.
I was a mousy girl in the high school I went to with Kevin, University Hill. I showed up there in grade eleven and I never mixed much, especially after one of the teachers there raped me and I got threatened to shut up about it. That made me burn inside with anger and a gut feeling for anyone who gets screwed over and shut down to protect some asshole. The same kind of righteous outrage that won't look away that Kevin has always carried.
We only spent a year together at U Hill before Kevin and I went our own separate ways. But it was hard for me to lose contact with Kevin. He's not the kind of guy to stay unnoticed, as you may have noticed.
Some ignoramus in our grad class said Kevin was the one most likely to become Prime Minister. The funny thing about that statement is Kevin is a born revolutionary. I mean that in a good way. He can't tolerate any wrong, no matter who's doing it. And he dreams of a world without somebody screwing or exploiting somebody else. From what I can see, he's never let go of that dream.
In 2004 I reconnected with Kev face to face after he'd been thrown out of the United Church for exposing their residential school house of horrors. I came to one of the information pickets he and a few Indians were holding outside one of the downtown Vancouver churches. There was that same smiling, fearless Kevin. He was happy to see me there. He didn't judge me like I judged myself, for being too chicken shit to do anything about all the bullshit in the world for so long. It was enough for him that I was there.
I think Kev is the only man I've ever trusted. He is gentle to his core but as hard as iron. He has an other worldly quality about him that lets him be present with anyone. He really is able to love his enemies to their face, not just as a nice idea. Like on the day we picketed that church together, the United Church minister came out and started screaming at Kevin and heckling him, taunting him, hitting him low blows about not being a good father and husband. Kev's wife had left him by then and he'd had his daughters taken from him. But in all his pain and personal loss, and with all that hatred thrown in his face, Kev didn't strike back. The hate and vile shit didn't faze him. He stared his attacker down and kept trying to reason with him and reach his heart. I've never seen anything like it.
I don't think a sick world like ours will ever understand or honor a man like Kevin. That's why I had to write this. At least someone sees him and maybe if there is a God that's enough for Him. I know Kev's always been there for people like me, the silenced and messed up victims who never get their say or day in court. Fighting for us is enough for him. Knowing that there's even one like Kevin Annett in our world is enough for me.
I didn't think I could write this because of all my demons and my shame for wasting my life. But at least part of me is inspired by Kevin's light, knowing that it will never go out. My love and respect for him has no words. He is still walking his lonely road and I wish him all the hope and love and happiness that he has brought me and so many others.