There are a few things that mankind cannot avoid and must deal with – yes, it’s about what to do with all that human waste we pump out from our innards on a daily basis. Back in the day, going about your personal business and hygiene wasn’t really that personal, but rather something that everyone did. Today, with porcelain potties and thousands of commercials touting the best in software (in this case, toilet paper) for your delicate derriere, which when used outdoors, can placate even the most violent bears into submission.

Yes, it’s poopie time again. Time to pull out that newspaper or magazine or for some people, the knitting needles and get down to the business of waste management. Why do I bring this up now, well… it’s something that no one really talks about during coffee breaks and it’s the most least talked about subject during dinner gatherings, so someone has to bring it out in the open.

Back before paper was a valuable commodity, used only for writing and artwork, toilet paper was something that wasn’t used or even heard of. What was used one may ask? Whatever was available and handy was usually the answer, but from what I recall, any old moss did the trick. Throughout time, waste was just another duty, that when you were caught off guard, was quite often the topic of heated discussion and a chance to embarrass someone with gentle ribbing and jokes that could be used on the next victim.

This wild waste was not enough to cause any environmental damage as humans were greatly outnumbered by the other denizens of the Wild North, until the modern world came along. But before that, the outhouse was in everyone’s backyard and would be there for years and years, until it was time to move to another location.

One outhouse I remember quite well was the one made for the airline at that time. It was a 12-seat outhouse and once the plane landed on the soft sand runway, passengers would run out to the back and get the only break for the rest of the day. This made up for some rubbing of shoulders as there was no walls to give you privacy and everyone would continue their conversation where they left off. I guess this was normal for those days. However, toilet paper was still a new thing and it was valued greatly. I know, because my boss at that time, would hide the precious paper in his desk. I had to bring my own, but I learnt that it was easier just to run home and get it over with instead.

At some point in history for the Cree, this type of life changed forever when the indoor toilet was introduced into every home and toilet paper became just another household item to purchase at the store. Back then, soft and fluffy paper was unheard of and Preparation H was the standard remedy for those off-kilter days for the unfortunate many who suffered from ruffassitis, but they were a hardy folk. Today, nothing touches my touché unless it is certified organic, sewer-rated and scented.