Christmas came early this year to the Elders of Waswanipi, who were treated to a special luncheon from Chief and Council on December 3. It was an initiative of Chief Marcel Happyjack, who will be away during the holidays and wanted to show the community’s love and appreciation for their Elders.
“We had many losses this year,” explained Gloria Jolly, a council member involved with the event. “A lot of Elders have gone. This is one of the reasons why we want to show our love and support to the Elders so they won’t feel alone, especially this time of year.”
While the holiday season can be a lonely time for many, Jolly’s photographs from the luncheon reveal that plenty of laughter and fun times were shared on this day. Jolly and other members of Chief and Council wore festive hats to serve the turkey lunch to about 50 Elders at the community’s Youth Centre.
Whenever there are such activities in the community requiring transportation, Waswanipi’s band office has a vehicle reserved primarily for Elders. For the Christmas luncheon, which was primarily organized by Patricia Wapachee and Ryan Trapper, a driver picked them up right from their homes.
“The Elders were very happy and appreciative because of the good meal that was served,” Jolly told the Nation. “We did five door prizes of $500 each. We are there for them – I like to be out there and help out, be involved. The Elders know me well in the community.”
Several events throughout the year are held especially for Elders, including a separate Christmas supper held at the Youth Centre on December 16 that was organized by Robin Gull-Saganash. There was also a Christmas shopping trip to Chicoutimi earlier in the month.
Elders play an important role in the community as vital knowledge keepers of Cree language and culture, representing a source of inspiration and guidance for people of all ages. Waswanipi’s Elders Council are valued advisors to Chief and Council, attending regional meetings and providing helpful assistance when requested.