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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Thoughts from the blind

BY Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash May 22, 2023

According to scientists, climate change is warming the North much faster than the South. I think we can see it with all the irregularities we have encountered these past years during Goose Break.

Even my Inuit friends reached out to me this year to see if geese were flying, because only a few flocks were making their way North.

I was in Winnipeg at the end of April when my friends told me it was 25⁰C in Montreal, so I headed back home in a rush to get ready for Goose Break, but the geese were late. 

It’s frustrating for people who don’t have much flexibility with their schedule and days off because when the geese start to fly, you have to go back to work.

The fact that climate change is closely linked to capitalism and colonialism makes it hard for me to engage in my work, especially now that those factors impact the quality time I get to spend out on the land.

I was in the Broadback Valley where my grandparents used to spend their winters and I couldn’t stop thinking about how different my life is from theirs and how much things have changed in just two generations.

Not to romanticize the traditional way of life my grandparents had, because according to aniyâ nûhkum it was very hard to live off the land. But what makes me nostalgic for a life I never knew is the fact that this choice has been taken away from us. 

People my age will never be able to experience life the way our grandparents did, even if we wanted to. 

Here I was enjoying every minute I had on the land only to be reminded that I’d have to go back to work to pay my bills while the planet is on fire, on top of the frustration of not being able to harvest as much as I wanted because geese weren’t flying.

Even if I was juggling my very modern problems and dreaming of simpler times, seeing pictures of my people enjoying their time on the land and passing down traditional knowledge always makes me happy. 

Even though I struggle in this late-stage capitalism, I’m grateful the universe made me Cree and gave me access to land where I can escape this dystopia, even if it’s only for brief moments.

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Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash is Cree from Waswanipi, and is the Nation’s newest columnist. She is an activist and writer who also has a regular column in Montreal’s French Metro Newspaper.