(Translated by Jo-Ann Toulouse)
In mid-January a group of 28 former co-workers and I participated in the wood-cutting bee that took place in the Chantier-Chibougamau wood lot for the victims of the freezing rains in Montérégie. We remobilised the 21, 22, 23, and 26 of the same month. To lend a hand in a similar activity in progress in Mistissini.
Most of the people from Chibougamau were former co-workers from the MSV mine. In the air, the joy of friends reunited was tangible. Some of the men had not seen each other since the various lay-offs began last spring.
All present felt a great satisfaction that “finally we can act and do something for our neighbours in the south in need.” The harmony that reigned was special, the ambition very great; to meet or surpass Cree communities’ objective of 500 cords of wood to warm the homes of those still without power in the south ofthe province. We joined forces with the people of Mistissini, Nemaska and Ouje-Bougoumou who finally doubled their objective by producing no less than a thousand cords of wood destined for the people of the “Black Triangle.”
The first truck that left the community for the south had been filled from the wood piles each familyhad stocked for the winter to warm their own homes, since then many of these families have had toreturn to the forest in order to replenish their stock for the rest of the winter.
From the moment we stepped down from the bus no directions were needed. Much like the activity around a bee hive, orderly clusters formed around the numerous wood cutters as much to provide additional wood as to cord it while still others cleaned up the area as the work progressed. Including our group, some ninety people worked together towards a common goal.
Many businesses in Mistissini provided goods and services to-
wards the success of Operation Solidarity. The number of people who gave their time and energy since January 14 is heart-warming: students, teachers, the Mistissini Cree Nation Council as well as the Native Women’s Association who prepared food in abundance. Food that came from the families in the community, once again from their own supplies.
Our desire to lend a helping hand above all enabled us to better know our neighbours who received us with much warmth and courtesy. They were happy that we joined them. The Youth Council, the Elders’ Council, and the Mistissini Cree Nation Council warmly emphasised this point. The chief expressed the wish that close ties such as those so recently experienced together be repeated in the future.
We thank them very much for sharing these good
times with us.
Life profited from this experience to produce miracles. The vision of a people that helps each other crystalized in the depths of our hearts.
Unaware, we developed together the foundations of friendship, love and solidarity between ourcommunities.
An ardent wish lives within us now, to strengthen these links that we have forged with our friends.