Paul2981, “Ice Flowing On Moose River” (Moosonee, Ontario, 2011)
This is a story of the land, as far north as rails will carry you over the muskeg.
This is a story of a water tower painted with Cree syllabics and a stylized goose in flight, of dirt roads, an LCBO and a Northern Store. This is a story of the hunt, of white fish and moose stew served to visitors on Styrofoam plates, and of the gift of a Tamarack goose.
This is a story of water taxis and pick-up trucks and an Elder’s lodge with sliding doors, of rez houses with satellite dishes and mouldy walls and broken windows, of band council meetings under fluorescent lighting on chairs from Staples. This is a story of high school kids smoking and lounging and laughing on the school lawn. This is a story about American Eagle and Nike and The Black Eyed Peas.
This is a story told on wampum belts of alliances made in the early days of a confederation, of battles fought shoulder to shoulder, of mutual respect, of promises and treaties, of marriages between natives and settlers.
This is a story of settlement, of statute and status, of forced assimilation and confinement, of prohibitions against potlatches and Sun Dances. This is the story of mothers and fathers and daughters and sons dispossessed of their homes, of one another, of their native tongues.
This is a story of victories and defeats, of frustrations and tensions and stalled negotiations. This is a story of ignorance and denial and fear and arrogance. This is a story of tolerance and respect and reciprocity and a desire to understand. This is a story of complacency and indifference and inaction.
Chelsea Vowel, “Nitêh: My Heart” (2010)
– Christine Fischer Guy