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A bright and warming future

BY Sonny Orr Jun 16, 2023

As I so wrongly predicted that this summer would be a cold one and there would be no real chance for forest fires, I digress. Yes, believe it or not, I was wrong. As someone who knows the weather and its usual patterns, this summer caught me off guard. 

It really is an upside-down type of year. It started with extreme cold, then there was no real snow to melt. Followed by a funny spring when everyone was fooled by the crazy flight patterns of the spring geese. Then the ice disappeared, just like that. Now we’ve got instant forest fires that pop from dry electrical storms. Yep, I got it all wrong this year.

Now, in mid-June, forest fires are everywhere in my usual southern travel zone. Coming from a community with no road access, it’s hard to turn around and head back home without regular air service, as we can only fly out three times a week to enter the rest of our territory. Heck, bingo is on more times than that. 

On another note, you might have noticed that the price of food has skyrocketed to the point where fitness gurus are complaining that a healthy diet is now only available to those with steady incomes. Reliable employers are increasingly looking into not having their work-at-home staff show up at the office. Heck, let those workers stay home and relax in their jammies while the boss works like an idiot on steroids just to keep the business alive. 

Some days, it’s not worth the effort showing up as you know no one will be there to buy you a coffee or to have lunch with at a nearby restaurant. Nope, it’s about not working and still getting paid, for me at least. In the end, the business owner has to pay the price and lay off those workers who do show up because it’s just not fair to them. Why should they work when the person stays at home and still gets paid.

Don’t mind my rant as I could go on about misfortunes and bad-luck scenarios that plague our modern-day workforce – or should I say, the Jammie Workforce, which you have to force to work. 

I can see how things were built in the past, usually with people who had no choice but to slave away using a shovel and pickaxe to make that smooth road you drive on every day to work, cursing the potholes that dot the roadways. Sorry modern-day driver, no one could get out of bed and their home long enough to fix that nasty crater on your way to work.

As I grow older, somewhat wiser and definitely crankier, I wonder if the days of the past were actually good. I think of how we used to slave away for those who had no interest in our future, but only for their bottom line and profit margin. For school, I think there was a quota to be fulfilled, so many students will increase your budget for the year. But no, budgets were mainly to keep those schools operational, like the heating, utilities and maintenance, with no real concern for the students who were there to give the institution a purpose based on quotas. 

Today, we manage our own schools with more young ones enrolling and learning about the future. Today, the past is something we don’t want to happen again, but those memories, good and bad, keep on resurfacing. I prefer to remember only the good memories and lock the bad ones away somewhere deep in my psyche, only to be brought out when the time is needed to scratch at those old scars and cause deep internal bleeding of the heart and soul. Like many others my age, it’s best to keep the future bright enough for the next generations to see their own pathways and take them without fear of stumbling and falling into a world that is not ours.

Today, we stand for the future and the present is our new stomping ground where we can go freely without being forced – a future without guilt and pain. Tomorrow is always a new day for today’s generation.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.