New Years was different this year. A familiar sound was missing. One that I always felt was unique to Cree communities and an important tradition.
A new by-law was delivered just after Christmas to each household banning the firing of guns on December 25th, 26th, 31st and January 1st on Category I lands and any Category III lands enclosed by Category I lands.
No longer at midnight would I or others be allowed to bring in the New Year with a bang. After the holidays I learned that other Cree communities are considering or have already banned this tradition, too.
Safety is obviously a concern when it comes to firing guns into the air. Who could enjoy living in fear of a bullet crashing through their roof in the middle of the night? In other parts of the world, dozens of people are killed every year when firearms are discharged into the air at various celebrations, protests, comemmorations, etc.
But these are usually areas which are highly populated and where safety precautions are not a big consideration.
There is another side to the tradition of shooting guns at New Years. You would hear the shots going off all over the community. You would know that others like yourself were celebrating the end of a year and the beginning of another.
From where the sounds were originating you could tell where friends and family had gathered together. It felt like community spirit in action.
I only wish there had been more time and consultation so all viewpoints could have been presented. Perhaps a compromise could have been reached to ensure both safety and the continuation of a tradition.
One obvious idea would be to have a designated spot for everyone to gather, like at the shore of the lake. Police could also be present to make sure everything is done safely and everyone has their wits about them.
With more discussion and contemplation, I think people will probably be able to come up with other ideas for how to keep everyone happy, safe and reassured. The holidays should be a time of merriment for all which everybody should be able to enjoy in their own way, without disturbing someone else’s peace of mind.
On that note, all of us here at The Nation hope you and yours enjoyed your holiday. May the Creator grant you the best of everything in the coming year.