Brave young cancer victims arrive in Waskaganish March 5th,6th 2003

Our people had gathered down by the Rupert River waiting for the arrival of our special guests. From the vantage point of standing on the shoreline we would be able to see them coming from far off across the bay. The day had started to clear up and the sun was shining beautifully. Several people had left before to meet them in case there might be problems: William T. Hester, Jack and Doris Diamond, Raymond Blackned along with myself. Cree guides from Moose Factory, Ontario and from Waskaganish had guided them up to this point on the Misissicabi lowland. The trip had been organized by the Tips of the Toes Foundation from the Quebec City region in collaboration with Waskaganish department of tourism and Moose Factory Frist Nation. They had chosen Waskaganish as their main destination.

Driving from Moose Factory by snowmobile these (10) brave young and determined students, cancer victims from various urban centers saw for the first time the beauty of the land. They were escorted by 3 medical personnel, media persons from CTV, the co-founder Francois Guillot and Annik Dufresne, the main contact person designated for this event.

The excitement could be felt when the riders could be seen off in the distance, like small clouds forming a long line on the bay ice. The sun still shone brightly as the evening colours of the northern sky began changing.

An area had been cordoned off at the Kanio Kashee Lodge for better crowd control. As our soon-to-be friends raced up to this line, everyone was cheering loudly, ringing to an old HBC bell and were welcomed with hearty congratulations. They never expected this number of people that showed up. It’s events like this that lifts the community spirit. Down by the bank of the Rupert River all the students hugged one another, were then welcomed by a long procession of people. Later on that evening a feast had been prepared of moose meat stew with dumplings, roasted beaver and Canadian cuisine. Several cakes were baked to mark the occasion, which everyone enjoyed very much. Several of our youth sang some songs.

We were later entertained by one of the students ‘Celine Dion’ impersonation as she crooned about her hopes and dreams.

Our guests/friends being tired from all the day’s events chose to go to bed early and people started to go home. It had been a long day and they were happy and content.

The next morning a short tour of Waskaganish by ski-doo was organised. The sun’s warmth could be felt as the guests prepared to go back home. As we stood in a circle, words of wisdom were said by elder Jimmy Trapper followed by a prayer to lift their spirits, give them hope and inspiration and to put all their faith in the Creator of Life. Then they rode off saying ‘they’d be back’. It was an honour to host this event.

A special documentary covering this trip, will be aired on the week of April 1-9, 2003 on CTV.

By Chief Robert Weistche