September 28 marked the anniversary of Joyce Echaquan’s tragic death at a Joliette hospital. Many of us were outraged at the FaceTime video of her last hours and the vile racism she endured from hospital staff as she begged for help. Instead of being provided life-saving medical care, she was mocked, insulted and taunted.
After finishing another conference via video and thanking all the gods for our relatively safety due to the remoteness of our community, I head off to our little camp to fetch some water. Is there a boil water advisory by any chance? No, it’s just an excuse to get out on the land and get some chlorine-free water to steep our tea in, including the Labrador teas, which naturally sweeten out tastebuds and smooth out the hard tannins of the East Indian teas we drink daily.
The federal party leaders’ debate September 9 sparked a political firestorm in Quebec after the moderator confronted Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet over two controversial pieces of provincial legislation in Quebec: Bill 21, the banning of religious symbols in the public sector, which is now a law; and Bill 96, which would, if passed, more or less legislate French as the only language allowed in Quebec public life.
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 curve for me to adapt, adjust and fit into the non-Indigenous world when I first left Attawapiskat to further my education in the south.
The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be observed September 30. At the Nation we feel this is a small gesture by the federal government given that promised funds to search for unmarked graves at former residential schools never materialized.
I was on Nunavik’s Hudson Bay coast this summer to teach various workshops. In one of them, I show people how to identify if they are in crisis and then to map out their support system. The exercise is quite simple, but it forces one to reflect on who to rely on, whether they are professionals or loved ones.
This morning the radio was quietly playing some music that I recognized, just to prove how old I am. As “Wake Me up When September Ends” caused a knee-jerk reaction, I realized that August had slipped by in a haze of heat waves. It’s storm time now, as the people recently liberated from their homes to the south would have witnessed, with tornados popping up out of nowhere. Then Covid reared its ugly head once again and the fourth wave hit our communities. How? By travellers.
Despite a difficult experience since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Cree School Board Chairperson Sarah Pash is confident that Eeyou Istchee is ready for a return to almost-normal classroom activities.