As an indigenous person raised in a remote First Nation and on the land I am very familiar with my cultural and traditional roots. It was a steep learning...
I feel a greater sense of hope and optimism these days for the future when I talk to many of our young First Nation people. There are still many hurdles and difficulties they have to overcome but in many ways, they are becoming stronger, smarter and more confident people. I’ve witnessed those changes personally through the annual Wabun Youth Gathering, which I have been fortunate enough to attend regularly over the past decade.
As a child I never really understood what was going on in the wider world outside my small isolated community in the north. I grew up on the James Bay coast in Attawapiskat and the life we knew there was very far removed from everything and everyone in the modern world to the south.
Kirkland and Englehart and District Hospitals recently hosted a series of Cultural Mindfulness Workshops for frontline health care staff to inform them on Indigenous history and issues affecting First Nation communities. George Couchie, a recognized workshop facilitator with over 20 years of experience in teaching First Nation culture, issues and awareness training, led three workshops which took place on September 11 and 13 at the Kirkland and District Hospital and on the 12th at the Englehart and District Hospital.
Summer time is great for meeting up with family. I have had several opportunities to see my siblings and their children over the past month. It is so much easier to visit with people when the roads are bare, the weather is warm and skies are clear. Although I enjoy winter for its scenic beauty, driving in the north from November to March is a dangerous prospect. Too many people are killed and maimed on our icy highways.
It is that time of year again. After a long, cold and hard winter we are enjoying our summer here in the north. The weather has been hot right across Canada for a few weeks now and although we welcome this sunny, dry and balmy weather here in the north, in cities this heat is deadly.
The Wabun Youth Gathering for Senior youth was held at the Elk Lake Ecolodge in Elk Lake, Ontario from August 13 to 17 to bring older youth from the Wabun Tribal Council area to socialize, learn about culture and language and take part in a series of educational workshops. The event, currently in its twelfth year featured youth ages 14 to 19 from Wabun First Nations in northeastern Ontario.
I have always felt a sense of hope through the Native political organizations that represent my people. For better or worse, we looked up to our leaders at the local level and at the regional level because at the very least, we knew that there were people out there that were working for our best interests. Many of us on the James Bay coast were acquainted with our home Chiefs and some of us knew who represented other communities in our regional tribal council known as Mushkegowuk Council.
If you are into music and you live in Ontario you will be treated to a lot of great music this summer. One performer in particular is shining these days and he is none other than Matt James (Naveau) of Mattagami First Nation near Gogama, Ontario.