Eeyou Chiskatamachaoun or the Cree School Board put on an impressive gala celebrating past leaders in Mistissini on June 5th, 2000. Beverly Quinn, the Mistissini School Commissioner who organized the event looked around before the guests arrived and said, “it’s nice to see all the hard work coming together.” She also confided to me that she probably wouldn’t be volunteering to do many more. It’s a shame since she pulled off one of the nicest evenings I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t know if it was the teepee with the bearskin rugs, the canoe, the tree boughs giving off a fragrant woodsy scent as you walked in but it was amazing. Quinn doesn’t take all the credit for herself saying the design of the décor was due to local Cree artist Gerald Longchap.
If the gala setting was anything to write home about, then the food was something to rave about. Everyone knows that for some Crees good food and eating go hand in hand. Tomas MacLeod and Vincent Shecapio, two graduates from the 1999 Professional Cooking Class assisted local caterer Frqancine Petawabino. What a meal! There was goose, moose, smoked sturgeon and the turkeys. Who can forget the turkeys when Gorden Blackned remarked that the meals would start when the turkeys arrived I swear some peoples eyes went to the enterence to see who would walk in next. Just joking!
The Anglican minister Hal Graham opened with a prayers that included the turkeys. Must of worked because they tasted great as did all the meal. And what would food be without music to accompany it? We were all serenaded by the Grades One to Three students of Voyager Memorial School. The students sang in Cree and well received when they did the Cree alphabet song. It was cuter than I ever was by a long shot. After the singing the youngsters put on a traditional square dance. It was great. I considered this the highlight of the evening.
According to the gala program Cree School Board employees were supposed to do a square dance too as the second performance of the evening. That never happened. I can only guess that they didn’t want to follow the kids, as they were a tough act to follow.
Introductions were made of the former chairpersons of the Cree School Board as well as the former negotiating team and former internal working group. We were all told that these people successfully negotiated a five-year funding rule agreement for the Cree School Board. This is a first for the School Board. Gifts were given out with the Cree School Boards thanks. Even the young singers and dancers got gifts!
Then it was on to some more dancing. Led by Glenn Cooper, Jonathan Sutherland, Josie Cox and Caroline Mianscum displayed their dancing skills. Cooper, Cox and Mianscum were doing traditional dancing in the Plains Cree style while Sutherland impressed the crowd with his hoop dancing skills.
At the end of the night a square dance was held. I slipped out before they started fearful I’d be pulled up for a dance or two. The reason for this is the term “dancing fool” might have been invented just to refer to my square dancing techniques. Kudos on an great evening.