Most of you think you’ll never re-use some of the work you had to do in school such as, What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Well, as a journalist you learn that’s not always true. It’s important to share this type of story, especially because of the travel restrictions we have all had to live with in this pandemic period. People lost family members or friends with whom they could not share their last moments, so reconnecting with those close to us is more important now than it has ever been.
This would be only the second time that I would get to see mom in two years. Throughout my life I have been lucky to have such great parents. Mom was mom not only to me but to friends who I would bring home. She just has that aura of a mom about her.
Dad wasn’t called dad except by his sons. Our friends always called him Mr. Nicholls at first. It was considered an honour to be able to call him Ken. He taught that independence meant being able to look after yourself. Repairing or knowing how find out how to fix one’s own belongings started at home. Taking your vehicle to the garage, or calling in a handyman for home repairs, was the last resort. Given the pay rate and parts costs that service people charge many of us have been grateful for his teachings.
In Chibougamau November 8, I watched him lay a Veteran’s Day wreath at their memorial on behalf of the Chibougamau Eeyou Friendship Centre. He walked up, laid the wreath down, stepped back and saluted. We could all see how much this affected him as no doubt memories of fellow soldiers who had become friends who had passed on, either during the Korean Conflict or later, went through his mind. Men and women who have served deserved to be honoured as they were willing to possibly make the ultimate sacrifice for us.
When my brother Don and I visited the Friendship Centre later, Joanne, the director, informed us that Juliette was giving free haircuts that day. Juliette had a hair salon in Mistissini but returned to school for Indigenous Studies and was willing to give up a day to do this. Joanne is hoping to convince her to do it once a month. This is a great idea that the Cree communities should adopt. Having a haircut is a boost to self-esteem and worth. With Covid, many have had to forego this seemingly small thing, especially our Elders. Look your best, feel your best.
At the local grocery store, Meechum, they were already putting up the Wreath of Hope and the Tree of Hope to raise money and collect food for the less fortunate in Mistissini. Once again, Covid has left many without jobs and money is tight for them. Help out when and how you can. Other Cree communities are following suit. We’ll talk about that more in the next issue.
I was proud to see what type of people our communities have. Like all vacations this was one that refreshed my spirit and one I thank you all for making that happen.