There seems to be a new attitude being fostered in the Cree communities that I find very disturbing.
It’s the old government propaganda machine in motion with the same old message: See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Of course the powers that be don’t say it in this fashion but use the hipper today’s bureaucratic jargon saying, “we are looking too often at the negative,” “you’re too negative,” “we don’t want the communities’ reputation damaged,” “you have to look at this differently,” “we’re working on this so give us a little time,” and other sayings that do little to correct a problem.

How many stories have made it around the community where you live where you heard about a problem being swept under the rug?

I’m talking about employees that are suddenly let go after money went missing but they were never charged in the name of this new attitude. Companies that sell to the Crees and send more than one bill for the same service or products. The golden handshake severance packages given out to unproductive people merely to replace an incompetent who goes on to yet another high-paying job because no one wants to shoulder responsibility or harm the communities’ reputation. The list goes on. We’ve all heard the stories.

Never mind that these types of actions betray the public trust even though that in itself is a serious problem. Never mind that left unchecked and hidden in the dark, these problems and attitudes grow like some malignant cancer within the Cree Nation.

I must ask a much more serious question. We all know that there are people out there slogging away to correct things. But are the Crees changing from a people who faced their problems and challenges head-on in the light of day into something else?

This is indeed a time of great change and turmoil for the entire Cree Nation and it requires great resolve to take responsibility and face those challenges before us. The Cree People are not children to leave the problems in the dark and hope they’ll go away if only we pretend everything is great and good with a positive attitude. For if we do, we are truly lost and will die as a people.

To explain the balance of life, the Asians have something called the Yin and the Yang. It was male and female, good and bad, positive and negative. It also said that in every situation the two were present In every male there was a little of the female and in the female there was a little of the male. In other words, life was never composed of only one aspect but was always complemented by its opposite. To use a metaphor, think of a car battery. Both the positive and negitive poles are needed to get it going.

While I believe that being positive is a Cree trait, I also believe that looking at the negative and dealing with it was also very much part of the Cree way. This is the way I saw the Elders. They dealt with the negative problems with a positive attutde. That’s how they faced the future. Only in this traditional way will the Crees survive the rapid change and remain a strong, vibrant people.