In mid-November, I thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea if I’d go shopping in Val d’Or. I’d take the opportunity to look around for some rebates and at the same time do my Christmas shopping. I thought that I’d save a lot more on many different items, food and varied products for the household, as they cost just about double price up north (transportation, you know?)

In order to save on my place ticket, I purchase this one at least two weeks before departure. Grab a cab from the airport, get to the nearest hotel from the shopping centre. As it’s getting late and they only served the so regular and so boring peanut treat on board of the plane, I of course feel a little craving for a good meal in town. There I am at the Vieux Duluth (very good by the way), but not exactly downtown. Anyways, worth the taxi trip.

As I get back to my room, I start counting how much I spent so far and that includes a plane ticket, room, meal, cabs… Okay, not quite a thousand and then I am the next day looking for specials to buy… There’s Zellers, the biggest store in Val d’Or. I might get lucky, so there I go looking around. Some good stuff, better than before and more choices than up north but I soon come to realize that there are but just small rebates on what I call “junk.” However, I end up buying a few things and pursuing my route towards other stores and departments. I ended up making two trips back and forth to my hotel room. So much for shopping (well, I thought). The next day, when a little rested, I peeked through my shopping list and again realized that I’d only bought about one-third of what I aimed to buy. This time I’ll try downtown and as I am not the type of person to shy away from my rights I thought that it would be good to take this shopping opportunity to investigate a few matters pertaining to taxation issues.

First of all, I asked store owners or/and managers, clerks, whatever sales person was available on site, if they accepted the status card for tax exemption. I’ll say that, even after some debate, the results were “NO,” cold, dry, fast, “NO”! Or, some politely would say that all I have to do is send my dearest receipts to both gov’ts and of course they’ll refund me. Well, of course they will, but only if I present a detailed receipt, with my name on it, my address, ph. #, the whole she-bang and Oooo! the line up behind me, I think, they want to crash me and if my instinct is good, the cashier would also like to take a piece of me (not my eyes please…) I end up getting out of there and the other stores with a regular receipt and that’s it (well, it’s not too bad, I still can take back the item if it doesn’t git) but who cares… I don’t think I’ll go back there. If it doesn’t fit, they can give it to whoever they want. Who knows? They can always try it on their dog for all I care… Now, I think that I’m just a little tired of all that shopping around and as I am not usually an aggressive person I somewhat feel something boiling inside (and it’s not stew).

I always thought, as Native people, we do have rights and we didn’t get them from a box of popcorn andthose who don’t like or accept it, that’s their problem. Not supposed to be Ours. After all, theretailers, owners, and I might as well say it, the whole population of Val d’Or and other townswhose economy depends a lot on the Native people should also do their share towards giving “us”the tax exemptions. Let’s face the fact that only during hockey tournaments held in Val d’Or,for a three-day period, the economy of this last one rises to approximately $3.5 million boostof sales. Also, if the tournaments were held in Rouyn, the town of Val d’Or would still profitfrom the Natives’ money.

Before I close on this one, I’d like to mention that there are a few smart business owners out thereon rue Principale. They have come to understand the fact that even though they would assume the taxesor whatever ways they chose to proceed with these ones, they prefer to rise up the number of Nativecustomers (tax-free) and still make a lot of cash. That’s smart business, no fuss, no line up,no blush… well…

Another thing, these business people know that it costs so much for a Native person to get toVal d’Or ($3,4,5,600) for plane tickets or even having to drive, that we have to stay in hotels andeat in restaurants and that most of have to use cabs and all other expenditures… They’re willing todo their share. Thank you to them. Imagine, for an instant, that if all the Native people would stop(even just for one week) shopping in Val d’Or (mostly during the tournaments and Christmas shopping).How many businesses would go bankrupt or on the verge? Don’t get me wrong. When I say these businesspeople, I mean about two at the most. By this I only hope that there will be more understanding andrespect towards our little Rights…

Well, the whole trip cost me about $3,000. It’s been somewhat a good change of place. Val d’Or isunique as for its cachet, its decoration and, besides its stubbornness in business, the people arewarm-hearted and friendly and to tell you the truth, even though it costs a fortune, it’s worth thetrip (once or twice a year). Don’t forget that it is every Native person’s right to ask for taxexemption, get it shipped or whatever, but use your rights. Don’t be ashamed. It’s worth tryingdifferent stores. Some are willing to put the prices down at 15 per cent off. That way it is likethe tax is included, but in reality you don’t pay it. Be smart when you shop and until then, good bye.

PS. I got a good excuse for those who don’t get an X-mas present from me. I’ll tell them I lost myshopping list. Anyways, I got bankrupt before I reached half of it. Happy New Year everyone.