As families celebrate the end of another year and shed their burdens for the season, many of us find ourselves contemplating what was and what could be when the world picks up again in the New Year.
Looking back on the events of the past year, the Nation once again approached leaders from across the territory to find out how 2014 went for leaders of communities, entities, major businesses and organizations.
We asked these individuals to speak from their hearts by answering the following three questions:
1) What were your biggest highs and lows of 2014?
2) What lessons or wisdom from 2014 will you be taking into the New Year?
3) What are your goals for 2015?
While most responded directly to the questions (as the numbers beside their paragraphs indicate), some chose to make comments about the year in general.
The Deputy Grand Chief
Grand Council of the Crees
My biggest lows in 2014 were that I was not able to visit the communities more on the mining and justice files. I was also unable to attend certain events at the local level due to conflicting schedules, such as the Broadback River Youth expedition.
On the other hand, my greatest highs were meeting with four of the coastal communities on sea and land concerns as well as the protected areas files.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to work with both the Recreation Department and the Cree School Board.
And, not to forget, doing presentations for Roundtable Capacity Building was an incredible experience as it was really interesting to get to listen to local history presented by local people. I found this to be so very positive and inspiring.
As for my goals for 2015, I would like to travel less! (LOL, just kidding!) Instead, let’s say that I would like to work hard and spend more time with the communities.
These are my other Kickass Goals for the New Year:
• Visit at least four communities on Justice issues;
• Ensure Recreation and CSB work together for the healthy development of our children;
• Have mining conferences in the communities;
• Initiate a kickass land use plan for Eeyou Istchee; and
• Smile more.
Quote to live by this year:
“I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful and too determined to be defeated.” Of course do it with a Kickass Attitude.
Cree-Quebec Relations Negotiator
Cree Regional Authority/Grand Council of the Crees
1) On the professional side of my life, the things that stand out for me as the most significant achievements were, first, the inauguration of the new Regional Government following the successful negotiations of our Governance Agreement. It was very fulfilling to see the fruits of our hard work realized when that first meeting of the Regional Government took place in Waskaganish.
We also saw the conclusion and the beginnings of the implementation of important IBAs [impact benefits agreements] – the Nemaska Lithium project and the BlackRock project with Oujé-Bougoumou. Whenever we are successful in completing an IBA or a PDA [pre-development agreement], we are really demonstrating to everyone the important and the continuing role of the Cree people within Eeyou Istchee, and we are declaring through these agreements that no development can take place in our traditional territory without our consent and without our involvement.
I was also pleased to see that the very successful Roundtable on Capacity-Building, which was first held in Ottawa in 2013, was taken to all the communities so that the important message of that initiative could be brought to a wider audience and shared with the youth and the larger population in all our communities. This initiative was well received and the message was loud and clear about the important role our youth will have in the future of the Cree Nation.
On the personal side, I have to say that it is sometimes difficult to categorize certain events as highs or lows. As you know, in 2014 I lost my dad after a lengthy illness. I still miss him terribly and I am sad whenever I think about him. But at the same time, I have come to accept that knowing him, even for the short time that I did, was a gift. And I am grateful for that gift. In fact, his passing has made me much more sensitive and much more grateful for the wonderful people in my life starting with my family, and then my friends and my colleagues. My dad being in my life, and also his passing, have enriched my life and made the important people in my life so much more precious to me. And just maybe I wouldn’t have come to this perspective at this point in my life without having had all those experiences with my dad, including his passing.
Recently, I also lost my aunt, Sarah Bosum Dixon. I also lost a very dear friend with the passing of David Mianscum, and there are other Elders who were part of my life who have sadly passed. I will miss them too, and I am grateful to have had them all in my life.
2) Our Cree Nation has been through a lot over the years, and one of the most important lessons I have learned, and I have even been reminded of it this past year, is that when it comes to our achievements as a Nation, we can never take anything for granted, we can never let our guard down when it comes to protecting our rights, and we need to be always vigilant and alert to any efforts to try to diminish or erode our treaty rights and our Aboriginal rights.
What this means practically looking forward is that we must educate our young people about our history and our rights and try to find ways to instill that sensitivity towards our Cree rights so that they will know when to be cautious and when to be courageous in the defense of our rights. This is a challenge, I think, that goes along with our Capacity-Building efforts, because part of our ability to successfully govern ourselves and become the important players in the economy of Eeyou Istchee is going to require that we are always making sure that our Cree rights are being protected and promoted.
At the same time, we also need to maintain useful and practical relationships with all levels of government, from the highest levels including ministers, deputy ministers and associate deputies, to the bureaucratic level, all of whom we need to deal with at one point or another. And, of course, we always need to be persistent and always be on the lookout for creative ways of achieving our goals. We should not always take “No” for an answer, and we need to develop the wisdom to know how to deal with the “No’s” effectively.
3) We have a lot on the agenda for 2015 including the continued work in implementing the Governance Agreement, dealing with new development projects in the region, dealing with the new provincial government on its Plan Nord, we still need to deal with the uranium issue, forestry, protected areas, and there are many community-based projects that we will be assisting with. The goal, as always, is to keep promoting the central role of the Cree Nation in Eeyou Istchee, and at the same time, helping the communities with important projects that improve the quality of life in our communities.
Finally, I want to thank my wife Sophie (the wind beneath my wings), my family, my friends, my co-workers and the Cree people for their confidence and support for the entire leadership team as we stay on the path of building our Cree Nation. Meegwetch.
Chairperson, Cree School Board
The two ministers visited two Cree communities: Wemindji and Mistissini. While in Wemindji, the Minister of Education announced the new elementary school for the community.
In Mistissini, the ministers visited the new clinic, Youth Healing Services and Voyageur Memorial School. The ministers thoroughly enjoyed their visit at the school where they learned from the students how to carve a snow shovel during a Cree culture class.
2) There are times as a leader, a council or a board that you will have to make decisions that can become controversial. But, in spite of this controversy, you have to stand by this decision with a clear conscience knowing that you have made the best possible decision based on good principles, integrity and fairness.
3) My goals for 2015 are:
• To continue to lead the Cree School Board with integrity, reliability and to be accountable to the Cree Nation;
• To support the Director General, all CSB staff and our local schools in their endeavours to improve education in Cree communities; and
• To connect, communicate and collaborate with Cree communities in the provision
of quality education to Cree children.
I wish all members, young and old, of the Cree Nation a safe, joyful and wonderful Christmas. I wish everyone a healthy, prosperous and happy New Year!
Chief Reggie Neeposh
Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation
It is my distinct pleasure to pass along to the people of Eeyou Istchee my personal reflections on the year, which we are about to conclude, and to share my views of what we in Ouje-Bougoumou can expect for the year to come.
2014: An Historic Milestone
2014 was truly an historic year for the people of Ouje-Bougoumou. On May 15, we finally completed all the requirements and all the steps for Ouje-Bougoumou to be fully recognized as a Cree community under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. We now possess all the rights, duties and responsibilities as the other Cree First Nations of Eeyou Istchee.
After many decades of struggle and enduring difficult living conditions, we have finally fulfilled the dreams and visions of those Elders who put us on a path of reclaiming our rights, reclaiming our dignity and taking our proper place in the life of Eeyou Istchee. We remain forever grateful to those people throughout Eeyou Istchee who encouraged us and supported us over the course of many years. Meegwetch.
Cree Roundtable on Capacity-Building
Now that we have been officially recognized, and now that we are ready to take our place in the economic and political life of Eeyou Istchee, it seems only fitting that we acknowledge that the future of our community, and the future of the Cree Nation, will depend on the ability of our youth to develop the skills and the ability to truly govern the territory and to be involved directly in the development of our region. We have taken to heart the vision of our collective Cree future, which was shared with us by our Cree leaders over the course of the session of the Cree Roundtable on Capacity-Building, which was held in our community.
In Ouje-Bougoumou, although we all worked extremely hard over a long period of time to have our own community where we could raise our children in a healthy environment and create the possibilities for a prosperous future for them, at the same time, we also believe that our village was a gift which was given to us to take care of. We would not be responsible leaders or responsible parents if were to take this gift for granted and if we squandered the opportunities associated with having a permanent place within Eeyou Istchee to call home.
We were grateful to hear all the presenters at the Capacity-Building Roundtable and we in Ouje-Bougoumou are committed to doing what we can to continue to bring their message to our Youth, to encourage them to stay in school and develop the knowledge and the skills to take our community, and to take our Cree Nation to yet a higher level of development.
We are looking eagerly forward to a very busy and eventful year in 2015 and we anticipate a number of important achievements.
Heavy Metal Clean-up of Doré Lake
For the past nearly 15 years, Ouje-Bougoumou has been actively involved in bringing attention to the presence of heavy-metal contamination in the vicinity of a number of abandoned mines within the Ouje-Bougoumou traditional territory. Once our community learned about this potential environmental disaster our previous leaders worked very hard to have the Quebec government take this matter seriously. As a result of our insistence, a number of critical scientific studies were carried out to determine the seriousness of this situation at the worst of these locations. These studies were carried out on a joint basis by Ouje-Bougoumou and Quebec.
As a result of our determination and our insistence Quebec has now agreed to devote significant financial resources to carry out the required activities to clean up the contamination and to restore the site. As a consequence of Ouje-Bougoumou’s central role in our having arrived at this juncture, Ouje-Bougoumou will now play a central role in the work related to implementing a jointly approved Restoration Plan. We will be working diligently over this coming year to ensure that much of the employment and contracting work associated with the restoration project will benefit Ouje-Bougoumou, the Cree Nation and our Jamésien neighbours.
Reopening of Capissisit Lodge
I am pleased to announce that early in 2015 we will complete a major renovation of our local hotel/restaurant, the Capissisit Lodge. This renovation consists of the doubling of the number of rooms to 24, an expansion of our restaurant and the addition of modern, state-of-the-art conference facilities. We will now be in a position to host Cree entities, communities and groups looking for a comfortable setting for their meetings, retreats and other gatherings. We look forward to accommodating our visitors in larger numbers in a much nicer setting.
There are many other projects and activities which we are looking forward to in the new year including the completion of a new gymnasium connected to our Youth Centre, the negotiation of more pre-development agreements with mining exploration companies thereby consolidating our role with respect to development in the territory, and we will continue to work with BlackRock Metals pursuant to our IBA with them for the benefit of our community members.
2015 promises to be a very busy year.
In closing, on behalf of our council, we want to wish the people of Ouje-Bougoumou and the Cree Nation and our Jamésien neighbours, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015.
Gordon J. Blackned
Chief of Waskaganish
The “highs” for Waskaganish in 2014:
I guess one of those would have to be when the Waskaganish First Nation became the proud host community for the historic inauguration of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government on January 21, 2014. Ironically, Waskaganish (formerly Fort Charles, then Rupert’s House) is the oldest Cree settlement and for it to host this inauguration marks yet another milestone in its almost 350-year history.
Another high is the recent approval of the community store project by Council this past fall. We are anticipating construction to begin in the spring of 2015. This project will provide our community with approximately 30 full-time jobs once it opens its doors. The community is eagerly looking forward to this project.
The construction of a brand-new fire hall is also worthy of mention. Our current fire hall is over 30 years old and certainly needed to be replaced. We anticipate completion of this important facility sometime this coming spring.
As encountered by most First Nations communities, Waskaganish has faced its own share of financial problems, more specifically in special and capital projects due to cost over-runs, among other reasons. This situation has hindered progress of certain projects and services to the community. Council has had to adopt stringent financial measures by means of a Management Action Plan since April 2014. Significant fiscal improvement has resulted thus far and we should be reasonably in good standing within the next several months.
2) What lessons or wisdom from 2014 will you be taking into the New Year?
A very important one would have to be financial accountability whereby proper implementation of the WFN Financial Bylaw by all budget supervisors would require due diligence. This is one very important area in ensuring proper functioning of our organization due to the demands and pressures of AANDC on First Nations financial accountability and transparency.
3) Goals for 2015:
• To realize the planning and eventual relocation of various CNG regional departments to Waskaganish, which would provide additional employment opportunities for community members.
• Pursue the remedial measures projects as called for in the Hydro-Québec/Cree Nation Re-Appropriation Agreement signed in August 2013. This relates to the navigation issue in Rupert Bay, following the diversion of the Rupert River.
• Continue to implement the WFN Financial Bylaw to ensure financial accountability and clear the deficit situation currently encountered.
Cree Construction & Development Company
I am hoping that everyone has had a positive year and that you are doing well. Here at CCDC and Gestion ADC we have had a good year.
It has been a year of many changes and we are happy to report that both companies and their partners are doing well.
Through some of our partnerships we have accomplished so much and I want to thank all of the people who work on the different projects for their dedication and hard work. Some of you have to spend time away from your families to work on the different worksites and I can appreciate this sacrifice you make to provide for your families.
Communication is so important and I have to say that we are grateful to have a great relationship with our partners and employees.
As we look to the New Year, we look to being a part of the various projects happening in our territory. As Crees we have proven time and time again that we can contribute to any development in our territory. As a Nation we have come a long way and we should be proud of our skilled workers in all areas.
We are hopeful 2015 will be even better and that we will continue to prosper and also be a place where people from all of Eeyou Istchee can find employment and continue to grow professionally.
Last but not least, I want to take the time to thank all of our partners and our clients for placing their trust in us. Without them this would not be possible!
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year!!!
Director of Youth Protection/Provincial Director
Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay
As Youth Protection Director for the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee, one of my professional highs in 2014 was the addition of 21 new positions who work to help Cree children and their families and the implementation of a four-year training plan for the employees aiming to improve services to the Cree population by the Cree and the solidification of an organizational structure through an action plan.
However, there’s still a high turnover of staff in a difficult but noble job to protect children while ensuring their safety and development. We will continue our work with the Professional Orders so that they recognize that by training Cree workers we ensure the safety and protection of children.
We are all responsible for the well being of our future generations. As in a family structure the values that need to remain paramount as well within any organization is the practice of support, patience, tolerance, understanding and good communication to work together for the betterment of all children – the most precious resource in the Cree Nation.
What awaits us in 2015?
• Collaboration with Cree Police, Cree Justice and the courts to provide enhanced services to youth who come into contact with the law with appropriate cultural intervention with the aim to decrease recidivism.
• Much-needed funding and updated criteria and amendments are forthcoming with the foster-home program facing new regulations by the Quebec government.
• Implementation of a supervision policy to insure the quality of services for children and families hoping to decrease the turnover rate of workers and provide more support and incentives to develop career workers who develop expertise in their field so that succession planning becomes a reality sooner rather than later.
In conclusion, as DYP my wish for 2015 is for the wellbeing of all children, youth and their families in Eeyou Istchee. The safety and security of children is the major preoccupation in youth protection work and that we continue to all work together in providing a safe and peaceful environment for our most precious resource in the Cree Nation, our children.
Dianne Ottereyes Reid
President, Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute
1) For 2014, the highlights would have to be two things: Aanischaaukamikw’s Regional Tourism Award for an attraction with 25,000 visitors or less, and the first theatre drama, Mind’s Eye, that toured the nine communities last winter and aired by livestream at ACCI on March 25, 2014.
The low was being unable to secure long-term operational funding for ACCI. Then again, there are always elections coming up, so there is hope!
2) I will never lower the bar in making ACCI a world-class organization that honours our culture and language. Our identity as a Nation is to have a clear vision of nationhood through the richness of our culture and strength of our language. That is our foundation.
3) After almost seven years at the helm of ACCI, I leave the presidency knowing that Executive Director Stephen Inglis and I, with our teams and staff, did one of the biggest fast-tracks of a construction phase and implementation of operations and programs of an amazing facility. Guided by the vision of the Elders, we accomplished a lot in less than six years.
I will always be an Ambassador of ACCI for the rest of my life, and you will now see me rebirth replicas of traditional clothing from the beaded hoods and men’s hunting hats. The Elders have said that it is time we bring back the richness of creativity with our own clothing for everyday wear, at work, at play, for special events and ceremony. Hey, I just might end my illustrious career as a fashion designer! Wouldn’t that be really neat?!
As we complete 2014, and to all who have crossed my path of life, I extend the greatest and best wishes for Happy Holidays with family and friends. May sheer joy, gratitude and peace reign in your lives for 2015 with an abundance of love for your loved ones!
Pauline Trapper Hester
Chief of Washaw Sibi
1) The highlights of 2014 for Washaw Sibi Eeyou included selecting a site above the 49th Parallel between Amos and Matagami, getting updated with Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come on the file of Washaw Sibi that was submitted for review to the Quebec government and strengthening our relationship with the Algonquin community of Pikogan to ensure a better working relationship between the two communities.
In preparation for the new community, we have adopted a membership code, a Governance Code and Financial Policies.
We also opened up a new Cree Employment Officer position through CHRD and CHRD has been continuing to provide training in regards to the preparation of the community.
We also had a visit from the Roundtable on Cree Capacity-Building and felt greatly encouraged by them.
The Cree School Board paid a visit to learn about our vision as a community. This was the first time that the CSB had requested to meet the Chief and Council.
The Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay was able to provide support to the Washaw Sibi Community Healing initiative and so our community has begun its healing journey.
The Cree Alliance sponsored the Chiiwehutaau Healing Journey (canoe brigade) so that our youth could return to the land of their forefathers and mark the gravesites, as well as reconnect with their Elders and reconnect to the land.
However, our biggest low in 2014 were the daily challenges of pursuing our vision of a home of our own.
2) Strengthen the unity between community members and leaders in moving forward with the vision, thriving towards a healthy, stable community.
3) Our goals for 2015 include: pursuing land issues with the Quebec government; strengthening ties and programs with the Cree entities, and relationships with local Cree governments; strengthening working relationship with Algonquin community (ies); restructuring and reorganizing the “band” administration to be progressive in preparing for the new community; developing training opportunities with the members in preparing for new job creation; establishing and training committees; adopting Grievance or Re-dress Code, Consultation Code; creating a new Cultural Affairs Officer position; developing a management plan for Washaw Sibi Cultural Camp (Joulac Camp), as well as Cree cultural planning; beginning a three Community Healing Initiative in preparation for the Community Wellness program; and having another Canoe Brigade: Mark II “Learning from the Land and Elders”.
President, Niskamoon Corporation
Niskamoon Corporation was established as a not-for-profit organization in August 2004 in accordance with the Niskamoon Agreement. The members of the Corporation are the Cree Nation Government (Cree Regional Authority) and the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee). It is managed by an eight-member Board of Directors, which includes three Hydro-Québec representatives.
Niskamoon provides an efficient framework for the cooperation between the Cree people and Hydro-Québec, enabling the implementation of the Cree/Hydro-Québec Agreements. It facilitates and simplifies access to funds and programs for the Cree people, communities and entities. In addition, it strives to develop projects in close collaboration with the Cree Land Users and other beneficiaries to alleviate the impacts of hydro development in Eeyou Istchee.
All Niskamoon-funded projects adhere to the organization’s core values by:
• Ensuring the autonomy and self-sufficiency of Cree land users over time;
• Promoting and enhancing the passing on of traditional Cree knowledge to future generations;
• Maximizing the benefits for as many Cree people as possible; and
• Promoting and enhancing the continued use of lands impacted by hydroelectric development
1) Firstly, we are proud that this year marked Niskamoon Corporation’s 10th anniversary on August 24. Many accomplishments and strides have been made within the past decade.
Other highlights this year included Niskamoon’s participation in the 34th Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment – Impact Assessment for Social and Economic Development, which took place in Chile this past April. The Niskamoon delegates’ presentations included: “Living with a Large Development Project”; “Maintaining Acceptance for Projects”; “Consultation Lessons from a Project”; “A Model to Alleviate Development on Traditional Territory”; and “Monitoring the Social Impacts of a Hydroelectric Project’. Overall, the participants were well received by the conference. Additionally, during our time in Chile, we had the opportunity to visit and have a valuable cultural exchange with the Mapuche Nation of Chile.
Niskamoon’s training programs accomplishments is a third highlight of 2014 that should be mentioned. We had the fortune to have 19 Crees graduated from our Technical Employment with Hydro-Québec (TEHQ) this year. They join all the previous TEHQ graduates as being fully certified and qualified to work permanently within Hydro-Québec. As of this year, there are 61 TEHQ graduates working at Hydro-Québec.
As well we are pleased to highlight that our Natural Environment Technology (NET) Program had its first graduating class, acclaiming all the hard work of creating this program, which was the vision of the late Billy Diamond. Students are trained in the use and management of natural resources, and learn about Sustainable Development, interpretation, protection and conservation including Cree Traditional Knowledge. As graduates, they are now certified Environmental Technicians.
It is important to acknowledge that the TEHQ and NET training programs are only possible with the partnership and participation of the Cree School Board and various educational institutions.
Finally, it is essential to highlight that there were many remedial works for our trappers and land users to alleviate the impacts from hydro development as well as mining and forestry this past year. One project that needs to be particularly mentioned is the Trans Eeyou Istchee Trail, which connects those traplines in which the tallymen took interest. This trail is all-purpose, serving snowmobiles and ATVs. This initiative was well received, and the funding and works have begun.
2) Like in any organization, education and learning are ongoing. We at Niskamoon are learning from our experience in the implementation of the Agreements and from the land users. The environment is forever changing and we need to adapt to change.
As in any funding arrangements, there is a time when the funding starts to decrease, and so we have had to become more prudent and ensure that funds are not wasted, but put to good use for the benefit of all Cree people.
With this in mind, the TEHQ program will eventually come to an end, but this does not mean that the hiring of Crees within Hydro-Québec should cease as well. There has to be a will to continue and ensure that the opportunity will be there for Crees to work within Hydro-Québec. The fund from the Cree/Hydro-Québec Agreement was earmarked for the program to end by 2017, in which the hiring of 150 Crees within Hydro-Québec would be completed and fully implemented. This has been difficult at times due to the low number of successful applicants and graduation rate. Not all applicants could enrol in the program due to academic deficiencies at first, however Niskamoon and the Cree School Board have worked together to help those Crees get their qualifications to enter and complete the program. Niskamoon is still hopeful that the objectives will be met as per the Agreement.
3) Niskamoon Corporation will continue to encourage the Cree people to enrol in the last TEHQ class so that the opportunity of the 150 permanent guaranteed jobs with Hydro-Québec is not lost. We are hopeful that the two remaining technical programs Automated Systems Electro-Mechanics and Industrial Construction and Maintenance Mechanics will both welcome full classes in the fall of 2015.
We at Niskamoon want to encourage the users of the land to continue doing projects that promote and enhance the passing on of Cree traditional knowledge and practices to the future generations. Niskamoon fully supports the users of the land and those who continue to be out on the land in carrying on the traditional way of the Cree.
We would also encourage the users of the various waterways, the river and lakes, to continue advising and making recommendations to those of us who work for them, so that their advice and knowledge will be part of the overall facilitation and utilization of their traditional knowledge and wisdom.
With the team that we have at Niskamoon Corporation, we will and must continue to serve the Cree people and we must honour the legacy of our ancestors and we must enable the passing on of the traditional knowledge, the culture, language and the wisdom of the Elders, to the future generations. With a dedicated and committed team at Niskamoon Corporation, we look to the year 2015 with hope for the future. Ginskoumdinnan.
Chair, Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay
1) It was a privilege to be present when Dr. Darlene Kitty won the Dreamcatcher Foundation Award in Hamilton in October. She is an inspiration to everyone at the Cree Health Board. Darlene works hard to encourage and inspire Indigenous youth across Canada to pursue health careers. Many of the difficulties we face at the Cree Health Board are caused by high staff turnover and a shortage of qualified Cree graduates to fill professional positions. We need more Cree doctors and nurses, but also Cree social workers, pharmacists, dentists, physiotherapists, and administrators!
2) Strengthening the governance of our Cree institutions is a process. It takes a plan, and a sustained commitment over a number of years.
3) My goal is to continue to fulfill my mandate as Chair to the best of my ability. Our continuing priority, with our partners in the Cree Nation Government and the Ministry of Health and Social Services of Quebec, is to work towards the goal of updating the Quebec
Romeo Saganash, MP
My biggest high in 2014? Hmm, I can point to several, though none really stand out, and are really too serious for this joyous time of the year. But if you really insist!
How about Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt during the final days of our Parliamentary Session, who did not even bother answering me during Question Period but rather scornfully accused me of being “a Socialist in a tie.” He said that with much disdain, and probably wrote it with a capital S! The next day, I showed up for Question Period wearing a bow tie and asked the Minister via Twitter: “How about an Abo with a Bow?”
Nevertheless! In the unforgiving world of Question Period in the House of Commons, if you manage to get under your opponent’s skin, you know you’re doing the right thing. And that happened several times, not just with Valcourt.
The low point this year is surely the shooting that happened on Parliament Hill on October 22, a brutal reminder that all our lives hang on a thread!
I recall the first gunshot – being Cree – and then the rapid succession of firing; it seemed like an eternity. In situations like that one, you listen to what you are told to do. So as we laid there on the floor, my first thoughts went to my Mom and my three children, of course. You don’t know what is going on out there in the Honour Hall of the Canadian People’s House. So you wonder: How many of them? Why? When are they coming through the door? What will I do? What can I do?
While having those questions and many others rapidly running through my mind, I suddenly realized it was Wednesday – Caucus Day for all Members of Parliament with their respective parties. The vast majority of MPs were there, in those two rooms down the hallway where it happened.
So in my mind I am thinking that these people must know what they’re doing: Wednesday. While trying to comfort others, at that moment, my mind just slowly began to accept a concluding question: Is this really how my life is going to end? In Parliament? From there I let go, and waited for “them” to storm in, and perhaps wage a final battle.
From that horrific moment, I think the obvious lesson that I will take from this year to the next is: Attempt to gain from your experiences in life, good or bad, there is always something more you can draw from them than you immediately realize. I look at love in a different way today. I appreciate every smile. I acknowledge every Hello in a different manner now. I see us differently.
Just a simple wish for 2015 – remain healthy, and kind to all. And yeah, of course, to continue to serve from 2015 on.