Orphan Boy Dreams Thunder

Peter Michael Hornung Maqua
1951 - 2006

Artist, teacher, mentor, healer, pipe carrier, loving father, cherished friend, Peter Maqua passed from this world on August 9, 2006. He will be missed.

When Peter came into your life, you knew it. Once in, he was there for ever. He was not a man one forgets. Sometimes aggravating, often unpredictable, frequently "out-there", Peter nevertheless touched people in a way that brought healing, joy, excitement and adventure. He led an interesting, challenging and very full life, a life that for most people would encompass several lifetimes. Adopted at birth, rebellious in youth, Peter spent a year in Africa following the death of his parents when he was 17, then travelled extensively throughout North America on what can only be described as a spiritual quest. In his twenties he married and moved to Lac La Croix, a fly-in reserve west of Thunder Bay. Adopted by the band and given the name Maqua ("Bear"), Peter became an OPP officer at the request of the community in order to assist them in their efforts to become alcohol-free. He did the same for a second reserve a few years later.

Upon leaving the OPP, Peter hitchhiked across Canada with his girlfriend Joanne. In 1979, on a night-time highway north of Vancouver, they suffered a fatal car accident, meeting a drunk driver head-on at highway speed. Joanne was killed instantly. Peter suffered extreme injuries and was declared clinically dead several times. He credits his miraculous return to life to the doctor who took extraordinary measures to revive him at the scene, and to his deep faith in Native spiritual tradition. Peter spent the next three years in and out of Vancouver area hospitals, and the remainder of his years in and out of Sault area hospitals. By 1987 Peter had undergone 23 serious operations to repair damage sustained in then car accident; he was also diagnosed with Hepatitis C, received through blood transfusions following the accident, and was given a year or so to live. Being the stubborn guy he was, Peter proved this prediction wrong by about 19 years.

Interspersed with the hardships were periods of incredible joy, relentless creativity, wonder and aventure. In 1982 he married Gabi Doleske and they had two very loved girls, Shaiyela and Skye. From 1989 to 1991, Peter's art installation The Creation Cycle, a multi-media installation of "traditional and contemporary Native vision experience", received acclaim in Ontario, Michigan, Florida and Hungary. The Creation Cycle began its tour at the Art Gallery of Algoma, and was the largest (over 100 pieces, paintings, prints, sculpture, pottery, weaving, music and sacred objects from Anishnabe spiritual tradition), and---by any reasonable measure---one of the most successful works displayed there before or since, receiving thousands of visitors during its month-long stay. Peter was also a two-time Canada Council B Grant award winner, a feat that was unprecedented at the time.

I was honoured to be asked by Peter to create the music for The Creation Cycle, a project that lead to a close and sustaining friendship between us, a close association with the installation as it toured, and many more musical compositions and projects, some with Peter, some solo.

In the '90s, Peter found and met his biological mother Earla, and met many half-brothers and sisters. He was also primarily responsible for the creation of an All Peoples community, Kabe Migiziug (All Eagles Society), in Marquette MI, where ceremonies have been held four times a year for the past ten years.

Peter will be remembered for his generosity and kindness, his deep commitment to passing on the spiritual traditions that were the cornerstones of his life, his boundless creativity, his brilliance and compassion as a teacher and mentor, and his ability to withstand pain and adversity. He was a tireless advocate for the many who suffered addictions, mental illness, depression and chronic health issues.

A musical composition, tentatively titled Orphan Boy Dreams Thunder (the title of one of the central pieces of the Creation Cycle, depicting Peter's experience of standing at the very threshold of life and death) is in progress as a tribute. Excerpts will be posted as they become available. Proceeds from the sale will go to various causes championed by Peter.