State of the nation

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Travelling on the James Bay Highway this past month brings back several memories. From the small wolves to the supersized ones, from dodging herds of caribou with our vehicle while going to tournaments and even stopping to gaze at the beauty of the northern lights dancing in the northern skies with the kids.

One memory comes back when I used to travel with my dad on one of his numerous road trips to meetings. My friend and I accompanied him to Chisasibi in the fall. While packing the vehicle at home, my mom reminded my dad to pack the rifle, “In case, you see something.” My dad’s response was, “Yes, we know. We’ll pack it.”

Close to the Route du Nord, we realized we forgot to pack the rifle (silence in the car for a few minutes), suddenly my dad says, “Oh well, if we see something, we’ll just look the other way and pretend there’s nothing there.” We all laughed and agreed.

After a few hours, we turn onto the JBH and not even five minutes in, we see, not one, not two, but three moose! My friend and I are looking at these moose while my dad drives in silence. Suddenly my friend tells my dad, “Just look away, sir, and pretend they’re not even there.” My dad did not need to hear that.

I was lucky enough to visit all nine communities for various reasons in the past year. My first-ever visit to Whapmagoostui was quite memorable, as I’ve always wanted to see it. Seeing the Hudson Bay for the first time was incredible as well as the inukshuk by the beach (which looked to be at least a mile long).

Seeing Eastmain grow the way it has since my last visit 15 years prior was amazing, including the up-to-date sports complex with 12 baseball fields right next to it (actually three). I did notice a table at the restaurant that was reserved specifically for Habs fans, though! Upon further investigation, I was told that this table was “purchased” by a local regular. Not sure if they were kidding or not. Wondered why they didn’t have a Bruins table for the Chief, apparently he’s a big-time Bruins fan. The Eastmain people made a good choice there.

Chisasibi got green! And I don’t mean October 17 “green”. I mean they have a lot of green lawns! Nice to see! I don’t know when my last visit was there in the summer months, perhaps too many visits during the winter made me assume there still wasn’t grass under there.

Waskaganish, home of the reigning C.R.E.E. (is it still called that?) Class A hockey champions. I saw these guys play in Mistissini, and all I can say is that this was one determined team. It was pretty quiet when I went through there a couple weeks ago, they must have been taking a break from their year-long celebration. Happy 350th Waskaganish!

Waswanipi continues to grow as well. They have their weekly fishing derbies, which in turn has made them one of the top (if not the top already) fishermen (and women) in the Cree Nation. It’s hard saying this as a proud Lake Mistassini local, but credit has to be given to these guys.

Ouje-Bougoumou is the keeper of our documented history with the museum. If you haven’t been there, visit it. Not as popular as the museum, but still a proud part of the community is its local senior hockey team, the Ojay Otterz. These guys talk a good talk, well it’s one guy and I think he sells tires too. Good guy though.

Mistissini? I’m a proud guy from here so I could say so much, but won’t. I’ll just say this… Fresh Tim Hortons coffee. Key word being fresh.

Can’t forget Wemindji. Have you been there?? This is one CLEAN community!! Not just clean, but impressive buildings everywhere. And they’re not done. Apparently they’re getting a new arena next year?

Overall though, I have to say that everywhere we went we received friendly greetings and nobody was shy to come have a small chat with us. The smiles, the handshakes made you feel welcome everywhere you went. Have to say that I’m very proud of what our nation has become in the past couple of decades; the tourism, the buildings and most importantly, the kindness of all. Looking forward to seeing where we will be in another 10 or 20 years.


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