What does that stand for? In America, it’s a military acronym for Commanding Officer. (Heavy drums rolling…) But up here, it means Conservation Officer (sounds of birds whistling and moose mating calls). They are muscular men, (and women too, who are invited to spend a stranded night in the woods and have the amazing ability to fend off frogs and warts and all that outdoorsy stuff, type of gals), ready to defend the True North, strong and free.

They are of the type that like roughing it as a profession and deem mosquitoes as airborne protein, readily inhaled, accounted for in court and bragged about on the occasional night out. Often armed with an ATV and a GPS, (with the Glock coming soon) they quickly rout out dangerous poachers, who roam our lands with impunity, daring our logic and passions of the lands.

Yep. I’m talking game warden here. They have a license to shoot first and say “camouflage” in court as a valid reason that goes beyond their standard of 20-15 vision, quickly passed off as hunting accidents gone awry. They can burn down cabins that are left to rot or which are owned by those who are illegally squatting, poaching, fishing or hunting out on our lands. They can take all your hunting, fishing and transportation gear and impound it forever, if need be. Come auction day, when the bad guys don’t cough up the necessary dough to release their goods, I’d like to be there to buy all my needs for the bush at rock-bottom prices.

Incredibly, there are so many outfitting camps in northern Quebec that the map looks like a myriad of stars and other indicator doodads, making me wonder why we hardly have any luck when it comes to hunting and fishing. There are more hunting and fishing camps out there than all Cree traditional hunting camps. The land that we “occupy” to carry out our Cree way of life is still intact enough for us to maintain our traditional dietary habits.

The top 10 reasons why being a C.O. is cool are:

10. You get to drive around outdoors all day and get paid to do so;

9. No matter how many mud pits you climb out of, the uniform remains unruffled;

8. On occasion, you get to wrestle black bears;

7. You can shoot back;

6. Dangling out of swooping helicopters is mandatory;

5. You can confiscate the kill or catch and consume the evidence after court;

4. You don’t have to lie or brag about your catch, because it’s all true;

3. After a while, you know all the best fishing spots;

2. You get to say, “Hand over that seagull you just killed, the one you thought was a snow goose” and laugh in their faces;

I. You’re the good guy for a change.

So, the C.O.s really are on our side when they venture out there to catch those despicable poachers, out there on the wild lands we’d like to see remain untamed. Our people are made for this type of work, as we love the land and the animals that inhabit it, and our knowledge of the land is proprietary to our culture. I think that we should all look closely at our inherent rights as wardens of the land and produce more Conservation Officers to tip the balance in favour of the land, the animals and our culture.