There are few things that could stop Orange Shirt Day organizer Eddy Charlie from sharing his story about the horrors and realities of residential schools but on Tuesday something did slow him down.
Charlie’s three-wheel bicycle was taken from Yates Street while he and his Orange Shirt Day co-organizer Kristin Spray were receiving honorary citizen awards at Victoria City Hall.
“When I found the bike stolen I was just devastated,” Charlie said. “I think it’s very emotional, I got attached to the bike because it helped me a lot, it brought some health back to my life and people recognized the bike.”
“Eddy lost his hearing as a result of trying to escape residential school, he’s also blind in one eye, so having a stabilized bike is really important for him,” said Spray.
Charlie immediately started searching the city and put a Facebook post up hoping someone might have seen it. There was an immediate outpouring of support from people asking to join in the search to others offering to put money toward a new bike.
“It was very touching and it overwhelmed me,” he said.
Word quickly got around to Cowichan Cycles in Duncan and the owner reached out to gift Charlie a new three-wheeler.
“It really comes full circle back to just helping Eddy do what he’s doing, I certainly don’t want to overshadow his work or anything like that, this is very much just allowing him to keep on keeping on,” said Cowichan Cycles owner Grant Lestock-Kay.
Charlie says he’s not angry about the theft but instead chooses to feel joy over the response and he has a message for the thief.
“I just want to say whoever stole my bike, you’re welcome to the bike,” he said.
“Maybe the basket could have afforded them an opportunity to get around town to collect bottles or do shopping that they can’t do on their own.”
Charlie’s new bike is expected to arrive next week. One of the shop’s suppliers is also throwing in a new top-of-the-line bike lock to prevent another theft in the future.
Victoria’s Orange Shirt Day is held on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.