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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Staying positive

BY Sonny Orr Dec 30, 2022

As the last seconds ticked down to the New Year, I reflected on what seemed to be most significant to us as a people. The top 10 countdown of events are here to review:

First, the end of Covid lockdowns and mask mandates was the big event, although it was something that many people had on their list of least things to worry about. So, no mask, hugging and kissing, but the fist bump is still around as I’ve noticed bruises on a few knuckles. Next, the end of isolation, but as this year ends, the isolation and precautions are still out there in a few households.

The tournaments that haven’t been allowed are now back in full swing. The hockey game is still honoured and at Hab central, the empty seats are now fully occupied by loud-mouthed fans with no inhibitions – the kiss cam is back too. The anxieties that used to be there are now gone. The only real enemy is the dubious calls made by the referees; at least that puts a lot of people on the same side. On a side note, since many Cree go to the televised hockey games, I tend to look for them in the crowd instead of watching the game.

Then there are all the shopping trips that get people out of town. Who needs a reason other than that the price of everything seems to have doubled, including the price of fuel. Watching special webpages dedicated to keeping track of all the price fluctuations is a full-time job. The small towns outside of city centres are where you can get the best deal on gas. 

At the time of this writing, I saw several trucks going to gas stations with a dozen jerry cans to purchase the lowest price petroleum in bulk. In the end, it’s the tax-exempt cards we carry in our wallets that make or break a decision: whether we go on to the next town for that precious liquid. The further north you go, the higher the price becomes for everything.

Another thing is that schools, businesses and other public services are still sporadically available – not because of lockdowns – but because there are not enough workers or not enough customers hanging around. So, to plan anything is fruitless, we just go with the flow. 

Also noticeable is that the working-age group is being stretched. There are either kids or the elderly working in the fast-food industries, at the tills in stores. Perhaps the interest in working other than from home is taking some time to reorient the masses back to the offices and other workplaces.

As the year progressed, the need to travel increased tenfold, or even 20-fold. Where’s the old-fashioned Zoom meeting when you could work without having to go anywhere dangerous or need to put on a pair of pants? 

As Christmas has taught us over the last century, it’s all about giving and thanking that this year can’t take out the love and caring that comes with the season. Even though I couldn’t come up with at least 10 noticeable things that we could recall since the last New Year, at least it’s progressively positive. We can have our lives back and put that nasty virus out of our psyche for once 

Stay healthy and keep the faith in humanity to come through the worst of times. Happy New Year everyone!

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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.