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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ


BY Will Nicholls Dec 1, 2022

It happened as I stepped off a bus in Montreal. There was this joyful yell near me. I looked over and saw one of the biggest smiles I have seen in a long time. The girl looks at me and shouts, “This is my first time in Canada. People here are so nice. I’m from Ukraine.”

“Welcome to Canada,” I shouted with laughter. Before the light changed, I found out that she and her brother were being taken care of by a Canadian family to help them adjust to their new country. 

I did not ask them about the war in Ukraine as it was a happy moment, and it shouldn’t be ruined by a journalist’s curiosity.

This moment brought the war home to me more than seeing the videos and photographs that are part of our daily fare. We all complain about life in Canada and usually forget we are complaining mainly about the small things. For example, was wearing a mask such an effort that people needed to rebel against it? 

Those two young refugees from a war-torn country would be glad if that was among the top 10 problems in their homeland. Canadians seem to forget how lucky we are.

Maybe those latest additions to Canada have given us a lesson on how we should approach this year’s holidays. With a joyful shout, regarding everyone as being nice, extending a helping hand to those less fortunate and spreading some smiles, not only to friends and family but also to complete strangers in the street. 

While for some this might be a normal thing, some like myself might make it a fresh start on our outlook on life. It could lead to a new better you and hopefully it will be as contagious as Covid was and still is.

It would be a perfect start to the holidays and the New Year.

Another great way for the holidays to start would be the end of the Russian occupation of Ukraine. Even if they left now, it will take decades to rebuild all that has been destroyed. The war even has the possibility to reach Eeyou Istchee. 

In late October, Russia threatened to take action against commercial satellites. It seems Starlink satellites not only provide internet access for Ukraine but have delivered photos and videos of Russian movements to the defenders. Already the Russians are suspected of cyber-attacks against the satellites. If they are successful in shutting down the 3,000 or so units in low orbit, then Cree users will be impacted.

Not only users in Whapmagoostui, but those in the bush and in work camps will feel the effects of Russian arrogance. Fortunately, no attacks have been successful to date and the US has said any physical threat to the system will elicit a response.

So, it seems the war may not be as far or near as we believe, but there are moments of joy amid the pain of an unasked-for war. And there are lessons to learn and one of them is to be thankful for what we have and share what we have been given this year and in the year to come.

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Will Nicholls is a Cree from Mistissini. He started his career off in radio and is still one of the youngest radio DJ’s in Canadian history, having a regular show on CFS Moosonee at the age of 12. Will was one of the founding members of the Nation, and has been its only Editor-in-Chief.