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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Recovery mode 

BY Sonny Orr Aug 3, 2023

As the fires wreak havoc with our summer plans and ceaseless smoke clogs our nostrils, we know that at some point the forests will yield and the wood that fueled this natural catastrophe is spent and deposited into a huge carbon footprint. I guess Mother Nature has its way to save any residual energy it has in its biomass and expending it with formidable fury. As any Elder has tried to explain before, just stay safely out of its way and let the rejuvenation begin its beautiful cycle.

As for the destruction left in the aftermath, many people have lost their camps and lands to these fires. Not to mention the many people who had to leave their homes for safer places and hope for, no, pray for, the rain to pour down and end this cleansing process. 

My hope is that no one panics as we try to regain our normal lives again. For the ones who stayed behind to protect and keep their homes safe, rest assured that everyone is grateful for your perseverance.

Usually, I poke fun at many different topics, but I draw the line when emergencies occur and sometimes life takes unexpected turns for the worse. It’s during times like these though, that a sense of humour is all that’s left to relieve some of the stress we’ve had to endure this summer. Perhaps I shall demonstrate.

When you have to board a military aircraft to leave town for the nearest safe haven, it makes you wonder whether this type of exercise might be a little fun taking off and a little more exciting when the parachutes get pulled out. 

Or being flown around in our country’s pride and envy of other nations, the Chinook, named after the warm Alberta winds, that tell us change is on the way. Much nicer than a groundhog that pops out of the ground once a year. This February it should have popped up with an emergency flare to warn us that the year was going to be a hot one. 

As with these types of phased emergency plans, the Elders, patients and those susceptible to bad air in general leave first. Kudos to them if they got to ride in a military aircraft.

But after the plane departs, it’s the waiting part that gets to you. Basic shelter and food come to mind immediately. Hamburgers and poutine can only sustain you for so long, and the need to consume home-cooked foods and to rest in your own bed tells you that life is good, when emergencies aren’t there to point that out to us. Sometimes the best things are the ones that you don’t notice until you don’t have them anymore. Maybe this is all a lifelong lesson on life and living.

Lessons aside, remember that summer is halfway over and there may be more calamities on the way. But we’ve had great experiences that we have learnt from and have all pulled together to fight them, like Covid. We learnt to work together and communicate and understand things like freedom and quality of life, things we take for granted. 

Today, we still need to band together, this time to save homes and people and in a highly organized way. As far as emergency management goes, we seem to have this pretty well in hand.

Finally, stay safe and listen to what the authorities have to say. They are tasked with keeping you all safe and sound, with your cooperation of course.

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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.