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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Good news for a change

BY Xavier Kataquapit Jun 7, 2019

Sometimes the world seems like such an upside down and negative place. I have to dig deep to find something to be positive and hopeful about. Well, I am happy to report that these past few weeks have been all about good news. I love good news because most of the time it means that people I know and those around me are having positive lives and success.

The best news ever is that my niece Renae’s daughter Gracie has made it through a major heart operation and she is now healing. She is just a little girl but she sure has a lot of spirit and fight in her and we hope and pray she continues to do well. Then my nephew Willie Wesley and his wife Delores had a new baby, Liam Owen James Wesley, who joins his five-year-old brother Brayden. My brother Mario’s family also added some good news when his daughter Martina Kataquapit gave birth to her son Harrison John Dale Paul recently. Martina and her fiancé Nathan Cheechoo were happy to see Harrison join his siblings Max, Anna, Nikamoh and Gillian.

More good news in that my niece Brianna has just completed her third year in the Bachelor of Social Work program at Nippising University in North Bay. She has been involved in making lives better for First Nation people for some time now and she continues to do us proud. She is dedicated to learning as much as she can about the Cree traditions and culture of James Bay and she has some great teachers in the family, including her mom Janie and dad Brian as well as uncles and aunts. Her sister April is also adding to their family’s celebrations as she has just completed a three-year Aircraft Maintenance Technician program at Canadore College in North Bay.

So much good news has been coming my way I feel like I am on cloud nine. My friends David Flood and his wife Tammy were so proud that their 17-year-old son Tanner was selected to attend the National Aboriginal Hockey Tournament (NAHT) in Whitehorse. Tanner, who is a member of Matachewan First Nation, was named the Most Valuable Player for one of his games. All of the Flood children excel in the sport. More good news in hockey as 16-year-old Kira Tangie, a member of Brunswick House FN,was also selected to attend the NAHT in Whitehorse. She was featured in the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) production Hit The Ice. Once again in hockey, Dakotah Woods, another Brunswick House FN member, was chosen to join Les Titans de Témiscaming Titans Junior “A” Team.

All of this good news has a common thread in that these positive results are due to the dedication, efforts and sacrifices of families to do the very best for their children. I know how hard my family works to raise their boys and girls and I see them as they struggle to provide everything they can for their children when it comes to their health and medical needs, finances, career aspirations and general well being. There are so many obstacles for young people these days and in particular if they are having problems with their health. My family and friends are doing everything they can to help their children through the maze of obstacles by bringing them up in loving and nurturing environments and encouraging them to choose good paths in terms of career, sports and developing a rewarding life.

None of this is easy as my sister Jackie and her family has had to work very hard to do the best for little Gracie. My sister Janie and her family has also sacrificed so much to make sure their children move ahead with good lives. My home community of Attawapiskat has been solid in assisting families with medical needs and education support. Brunswick House, Matachewan and Wabun Tribal Council has also contributed to the success of Tanner, Kira and Dakotah.

This is real proof that it does take a community to help raise our children and to give them every chance possible to navigate such a complex and sometimes difficult world. To all the moms and dads out there who put their heart and soul into making the lives of their children great, I say Meegwetch. Your struggles, sacrifices and efforts have resulted in some very wonderful young people who have amazing opportunities on the trail ahead.

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Xavier Kataquapit is Cree from Attawapiskat First Nation on the James Bay coast. He is a writer and columnist who has written about his life and Indigenous issues since 1998.