This story is from a student at Mistissini Adult Education.

As you may know by now, Natives were said to have a lot of alcohol-related problems. But sooner or later, these people will want to quit living in this kind of lifestyle. So where do they go for help? They go to the treatment centres down south. Most of the time, they return back to stay sober for a couple of weeks or months, then they return to the old lifestyle.

In our community there have been quite a few people who have gone to these treatments. A few have remaineded sober. Then there’s the case of the people who really want to quit, who are seeking help. The Elders had only one solution for them. The plan was to take them on a journey, which would start from Nitchequan, located 420 kilometres north of Mistissini. They would try and travel on foot and get here in our community. Remember, they only have the basic foods that people had back then, like tea, flour, sugar and of course their snowshoes.

We all know that in the bush there is healing. I mean there’s a lot of peace and you don’t have to worry about anything. Your mind is just basically enjoying the beauty of nature. So if you’re completely stressed out you’ll know where to go. But I would recommend you have a guide with you. I wouldn’t want you to get lost in the bush.

Now back to my topic. The only time they’ll be able to eat meat is when they kill game. I heard thatthere will be a celebration when these four men arrive in our community. I forgot to mention that theyare escorted by an Elder. In conclusion, I believe that if you admit you have a serious problem, youhave to seek a way to try and help yourself. And this is one way they have found out through ourElders. For them this trip only teaches them how hard it will be going on this journey of wellness.

Everyone in Mistissini knows me as Jimmy Gunners. I am deeply concerned about wellness for the Elders of the Cree Nation of Mistissini. I have a dream to make an ancestral journey, snowshoeing the land of our grandmothers and grandfathers, with a hope of reaching out to you to pursue wellness for our Elders.

Those who will travel with me on this journey are Kenny Wapachee, Jessie Blacksmith and Earl Longchap. We all share the same ancestral root of Cree Nation of Mistissini.

This journey is defined as a journey of wellness. This journey is dedicated in loving memory of Maggie Longchap (the mother of my wife Kathleen) and to the Elders of the Cree Nation of Mistissini.

The primary intention of this journey is to raise funds for an Elders’ home in Mistissini so that care for Elders may be provided by our own people. As Elders customarily tell countless stories of a way of life, these stories begin to unfold a message about caring – caring for the precious gift of life, even life at old age. I know we share the same dream to care that we may find strength to survive in a way of life.

The hope of this journey is to pursue wellness. Each participant on this journey desires to discover wellness, peace, self-respect, dignity and to resist the drift of dependence on drugs and alcohol.

The opportunity of this journey is to experience a distinct culture of our Elders and to discover what it takes to survive and contribute to a nation.

Now, most importantly, I want to encourage you also to pursue wellness, continue to show compassionfor the Elders and financially contribute to the construction of an Elders’ home. Your participationdemonstrates your generosity and that you really care. Thank you very much.