Sink or Swim.

A capturing of desolation, fear, and reality in 7FF.

You. Who are you?

If you are hearing this right now, you are not alone, however silent your room might be. Who are you? You live in a world punctuated by perfectly privileged puppetry, carefully moderated by our government. Who are you? Your world is shaped by the warriors in our councils and legislatures, the wasps that fight for your rights every single day, in the hive that is our modern society against attacking bears. Who are you? Your mental and physical health depend on the bed of infinite investments that have been made decades before your existence by a government that prizes your human life over anything else.

Life, no matter who you are, is always a question of whether one can sink or swim in the ocean of capitalistic risk we take on every single day. But in our world, where we’re surrounded by safety nets miles deep, sinking in this ocean is just not possible. The ocean floor is as high to the top as the investments that form your foundation are. When the water in which you must survive is only as high as your knees, sinking is something that just cannot happen.

But what about them? The ones that go unspoken in our governments. The crosses in the fields that we don’t talk about in war poems, despite having the biggest battles of all. For the hundreds in Pikangikum, the people like Curran Strang, they must choose to sink or swim in a completely different ocean from ours. Their ocean is not the high-floored, shallow pool of warmth that we must live in. For them, it is a cold, chaotic coagulation of hundreds of centuries’ worth of nothing but misery and intergenerational hate that lies within.

As the government chooses not to keep investing into them, and draw out the trauma with the tools that have worked for us, the weights on top of them keep increasing in their ever-deepening ocean.

Some make it to shore, riding on the occasional tidal wave of investments from the province. Too many go unnoticed, and sink ever deeper into their horrifying reality. They need to escape this ocean somehow.

No matter how they choose to remedy themselves, the ones that are stuck in the water eventually go too far down for anyone to catch them—in every possible case, the negligence on the part of the government and the lack of actual recognition creates an endless cycle of desperation. Eventually, the pressure of the ocean around them and the sheer amount of pain surrounding each human envelops them—the only way out of this hellish reality is through death. For them, having to exist in a world that offers no help, no place to rest or even a floor to put your foot down, is worse than existing at all.

Curran Strang was one of the strongest swimmers in the entire community. He was the one that brought joy and passion to the suicide capital of the world, and the one individual that was specifically supposed to swim. Even he fell prey to the current and vortex of our government's deathly ocean.

For us, sinking or swimming is not a choice. Privilege is what keeps us afloat. For Strang and all of the others that exist in the contrasting water, sinking or swimming in their world is not a question—it is a struggle. Bodies are discovered in the water each week—death is the only way for them to rise to the surface again.