Denman Island – July 2nd, 1999

You’ll recall that the weather pattern in B.C. this summer has been unseasonally wet and cold, but that somehow the sun has managed to shine on Corky’s Freedom train as it rolled along aboard FREEDOM. David, our intrepid driver, took the ferry across to Vancouver Island after hanging out Corky’s banner in Powell River at the July 1st Canada Day festival there… amidst enough drizzle to dampen the event but fortunately not the banner, as it was strung out under trees. From Vancouver Island it was another short ferry ride to Denman Island. The day (Saturday July 3rd) started out with rain pouring down! By mid morning it had slowed to a sprinkle, and then by the time we started hanging the banner out in the early afternoon, it had stopped altogether… later, when the sun actually came out to make a rare appearance, everyone was beaming!

Corky’s great crew was joined by Island helpers who proceeded to festoon the Denman Community Hall with the endless lengths of CORKY’S FREEDOM BANNER… soon, every wall and even the ceiling of the rustic wooden building were lined with images and thoughts about Corky from the children of the world. Light shining through windows highlighted parts of the banner spectacularly. Tables and chairs were set. Outside, sections of the banner were hung along the street and between trees on the adjacent school grounds. The Canadian flag fluttered in a light breeze above it all.

At 6pm Denman’s Community Forest group hosted a fabulous meal for a hundred diners. As the eating slowed, music began and a weaving line of belly dancers threaded their way through the crowded room. Singly and together they soon had the crowd clapping, hissing (a tradition) and calling out their enthusiasm. It was altogether an inspired and mesmerising scene. As the dancers ended their performance the sun suddenly flooded into the room through Corky’s banner… and the crowd headed outside.

Eventually persuaded back indoors, the audience listened attentively to Corky’s story as it was told with videos, slides, and Wendy Harford’s beautiful voice and haunting song. Afterwards more fun came in the form of a dance that almost all could join… another inspired performance, but this time it was good ol’ rock & roll. The band, Bijoux du Bayou, had the hall throbbing well into the early hours, the MC making sure that everyone knew about Corky and especially about not drinking Budweiser beer until Corky’s home again!

The next day FREEDOM headed off for another event at Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island… this one hosted by the Friends of Clayoquot Sound. Ten miles down the highway a connecting rod burst through the engine’s oil pan and Corky’s Freedom Train stopped dead in its tracks. !@#$%^&*! Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of the road or this story… so stay tuned.
We want to express our heartfelt thanks to the organisers of the Denman Island event, especially to my (Paul’s) daughter Milora, her mum Norma and all their Community Forest helpers, to Bronwyn and her fabulous belly dancers, and to Bijoux du Bayou.


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