In the newspaper business you always look for stories of community spirit and sharing. When one happens close to home, you can get the intimate details, and you realize how important spirit is to a community and the people living in that community.
What happened is simple. A relative of ours died and my father Ken Nicholls went from Mistissini into Ontario to attend the funeral. On the way back he broke a tie-rod on the truck. This limited his speed to just a little over 30-40 kilometres per hour before the wheel started wobbling to much and driving became unsafe.
Along comes Philip Wapachee and family from moose hunting. They spot dad’s truck and pull in front and stop. Dad stops and explains the situation as he sees it. Philip takes out a flashlight and they verify it’s the tie-rod. Philip says he’ll go ahead to Waswanipi and talk to some mechanics and for dad to meet him at the police station. Dad arrives and asks the police if there is a payphone so he can call mom and tell her why he’s taking so long. On duty are Bruno Blacksmith and Nathanial Saganash. They let him use the police phone to make the call.
Kevin Gunner, O & M Garage’s superviser arrives and says for dad to come to the garage. Waiting there to assist is mechanic Donald Domoulin. They have left their families and its about nine or so in the evening. O & M’s Head Director Henry Gull has no problem with them helping out. They spot weld the tie-rod, so dad can go a little faster and make it back to Mistissini. Dad asks how much he owes. No charge, he’s told.
This is an example of unselfish volunteerism and a prime example of Crees and non-Crees working together. It is community spirit in action. It is something that in the past we all took for granted but we hear less and less of these days. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but that these stories usually go unheard.
I believe the process of bringing spirit back to the forefront of community life is an important responsibility for all Crees and non-Crees alike in Eeyou Istchee. To this end I would like everyone with stories like this to contact the Nation. We would like to publish them.
As for the second thing, I have a proposal. Let’s create an annual community spirit award or awards. It is a wonderful way to recognize the positive things that are happening in Eeyou Istchee. It sounds like a real cliche to say that all we see is the bad news, but there are so many ways that people come together and work together and combine their talents and energies to work toward a common goal and that’s rarely recognized or certainly not recognized outside the community in which it happens. It’s time that that happened both in an individual community and in a Cree national community way.
If anyone out there would like to work on this or be a sponsor of the awards, I can be reached at 514-272-3077.