Members of the Elders’ Council feel neglected. They recently received $100,000 under the Paix des Braves allocation, but at least one Elder says the amount is not enough.
Robbie Matthew Sr., one of the leaders of the Chisasibi Elders’ Council, says the council should be given more attention.
“It should be a priority amongst other Cree entities,” Matthew said. “It’s the Elders who know exactly where we are coming from and where we are heading and if we don’t look to our Elders for direction, then we can be sure we’re heading into trouble.”
Matthew says the Elders know that young people are very interested to talk and listen to the Elders, but the problem is there isn’t enough funding for them to have meetings. Meetings should be held more often so the elders can pass on their knowledge and wisdom to the Youth. “They’re the ones who will pass it on to our future generations,” said Matthew.
The Elders Council was formed about a decade ago. “The Elders began to realize we were losing our language and our lifestyle slowly because of the ongoing influence coming from the south,” said Matthew. “When television arrived in the late 70s our children were being badly influenced from that. We were learning a different culture foreign to our traditional lifestyle.”
The Elders also say the Cree people should negotiate with both levels of governments to form a Cree language commission.
“If we can have that, the Cree language would stand firmly strong like a rock, it would definitely preserve our language in the future,” said Matthew, “If you look at the French people, their language is being spoken everywhere in the north, same with the English, this is what they’re doing. They are preserving their language, so this is what we have to do. Strengthen our language and our way of life while we still have time. We have to preserve the Cree language and our lifestyle for our future generations, that’s why it’s important for elders to continue to have more meetings with the youth.”