Why I'll Be In Court Tomorrow Morning

posted by Wayves Volunteer 23/03/2016

By Hugo Dann

On Thursday, March 24, at 9:15 a.m. I'll be waiting to take a seat in Courtroom 301 at the Law Courts on the Halifax Waterfront, 1815 Upper Water Street. I'll be attending the sentencing of Andre Denny for the death of Raymond Taavel. And I hope you'll consider joining me.

I've written in detail about the pre-sentencing hearing, and I'll be writing about this as well. But first and foremost I'll be in court to bear witness as a friend of Raymond, and as a member of Nova Scotia's LGBTQ Community, the community Raymond loved and selflessly served for nearly 10 years.

Having sat through the hearing and analysing it from my own decidedly un-lawyerly perspective, I have absolutely no idea what kind of sentence Justice Rosinski will hand down. Whatever it may be, I doubt that it will satisfy everyone in the LGBTQ community. I know that many of my friends feel a great deal of anger towards Andre Denny. An equal number of people I've spoken with feel that Mr. Denny's culpability is seriously mitigated by his mental health issues.

Whatever I might wish to hear from Justice Rosinski, a man who impressed me as both compassionate and ethical, I'm certainly not going to the Court in anticipation of "seeing justice done." I'm not even sure what that means in a case like this.

I'm more interested in healing. While I don't anticipate that springing forth from the Judge's decision, I do still hope to find it in the courtroom. I know I've already found it there in the gracious sensitivity of the Mi'kmaw people at the hearing. 

I also hope to find it within the Queer Community. If I had to pick one out of all the virtues that Raymond Taavel espoused and tried to live by, I would choose his kindness. He was always tring to bring people together, to broaden the circle of experience and his method was extraordinarily simple and direct. He spoke to strangers and included them. Community, as a value, for Raymond literally involved every fellow human being he came in contact with, and with him. it always seemed an act of joy.

That's why I hope that those who can will attend tomorrow, to come together in that spirit of inclusion, and to be counted as silent testifiers for a man to a man who gave so much and asked only for a smile or a hug in return.

Judge Rosinski, in questioning Andre Denny's defense counsel, said of Raymond, "He cast a long shadow." Indeed he did. He touched the people he worked with, the people who loved him, and the people he loved, and the people who loved humanity as he did. Most every social justice movement in Halifax would at some point have brushed up against the kindness of Raymond.

I know it's short notice and that most people will be at work. if you can be there, that'd be great! If you can't, well, maybe take a moment between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. and remember the kindness of Raymond. Those of us who can be there will bear witness for you.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to rise up early and put om my gayest shirt. I'm going to cover my jacket with pink triangles and rainbows, the sacred symbols of our queer nation. I'm going to bear witness, not just for Raymond Taavel, but, as Tanya Davis put it so splendidly in the title of her memorial poem: "For Raymond, and for all of the Raymonds, which is to say: for everyone."

I'll give the last words to Tanya Davis, you can read the whole beautiful poem here.

"And, now, a being from the tribe of Love is gone
and we are one less strong
in a battle we are tired of fighting in the first place
lay down your arms
peace is your birthright

One more time we pick up the pieces and we keep loving
struggle for freedom
for all beings
Gottingen street gets another beating.

Well, we'll love it harder
reach our arms out further
to encircle all of our neighbours
'til we work through all of the hating

            this is for all of you
            this is for the pain in our city today
            this is for Raymond"




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