By Connie Esau
This is a story not only about neglect but the feeling of being abandoned. This is a story about a young Cree girl who lived in Wemindji, Quebec. This traumatized young girl feels abandoned by her Dad.
It was on a weekend of August 24th, 1997. It was a beautiful warm weekend in the community of Eastmain. The Lawlors consisted of a family of five. Chelsea was 10, the oldest of the children. Her two younger siblings are Quisha at the age of 7 and Brandon at the age of 1. Her parents’ names were Joshua and Christina. She lived at 25 Sheebannock Drive.
Chelsea remembers going to bed feeling happy and loved. Both her parents were happy too. Chelsea and her two younger siblings went to bed.
All of a sudden, Chelsea is awakened by loud music and people yelling around. Chelsea younger siblings were awakened by loud music too. They all slept in the same room together.
Chelsea wondered what was going on, so she peeked out the door and she saw that there was a party going on. She didn’t know what time it was but it was still dark outside. Chelsea waited around and heard some arguing and some people laughing. Chelsea peeked outside the door, she saw her Mom kissing another man that was not her father and she saw that Dad was passed out. She still saw a lot of people around. Chelsea then went to the bathroom. When she walked in the bathroom she saw a man standing there and she saw a man’s organ. He was urinating. Then she went back into the room.
She saw her Mom in there. She was feeding Chelsea’s younger brother. He was breast feeding at the time. Chelsea knew that her Mom seemed different. She was drunk.
All of a sudden, Chelsea’s Dad storms in full of anger and drunk. He starts yelling at her Mom about getting too drunk. All of a sudden he hit her in the back. Chelsea saw that her Mom was gasping for air, her Mom had the wind knocked out of her. Chelsea sits there watching in fear, as well as her younger siblings too. Chelsea saw her brother move from his Mom’s side and he came crawling to sit beside Chelsea. Chelsea held both of her younger siblings.
Chelsea saw that her Dad hit her Mom four more times and he kicked her in the stomach and back once. Then her Dad left the room. Chelsea then rushed to her Mom’s aid. She comforts her Mom and cleans her up.
Chelsea tells her younger siblings to wait for her and they agree. They sat there crying and comforting their Mom. Chelsea quickly got dressed and ran to the police station, she told them what happened. They drove Chelsea back home and they arrested her Dad and took him to jail.
The police took Chelsea, her Mom and her younger siblings to the clinic and they checked her Mom out. They questioned Chelsea and she told them what happened. Chelsea, her Mom and her siblings were taken to Chelsea’s aunt’s house. They stayed there for a while but then they moved back to their house. Chelsea’s dad was sent to jail for six months. He was in jail for so long because of other charges too.
When Chelsea’s Dad was gone, she felt empty. Chelsea never thought that her Dad was like that. She thought that her Dad was Superman. Chelsea thought her Dad would not hurt a fly. But on that day, Chelsea felt abandoned. She felt like her Dad let her down. She could not feel anything but hate towards her Dad. Chelsea felt differently about her Dad than before. She wondered why her Dad hurt her Mom that way. She wondered why Dad did that. It really hurt Chelsea when he did that. What hurt Chelsea the most is the fact that he did that in front of Chelsea and her younger siblings. She not only felt abandoned but neglected and betrayed.
About six months later, Chelsea saw her Dad at the door. She wondered why he was there. When Chelsea saw him, she was scared of him. She thought to herself, ‘What if he hits me too?’ When Chelsea saw him there, she just stared at him and then she walked away and went to her room.
Chelsea’s Dad talked to her Mom. He told her that he was sorry. Even though her Mom loved her Dad, she had her doubts. Still she took him back. Chelsea wondered why she did that. Chelsea wondered why her Mom would take a man back that beat her. Chelsea was confused. Chelsea thought, ‘I guess love hurts. Love is a mysterious thing. I hope I never fall in love.’
As the days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years, Chelsea still felt scared of her Dad. Today she is still scared of him. Chelsea thought that her Dad really let her down.
About maybe five years later, on December 4th 2002, was the last time Chelsea’s Dad physically hurt her Mom. Chelsea was 14 going on 15. Before those five years he still beat her Mom up. Of course she still stayed with him.
The last time he did that on that December day, Chelsea walked into her parent’s room and she saw him beating her. Chelsea called the cops. Chelsea then interfered and hit him with a baseball bat. She yelled at him to leave her mother alone.
After Chelsea hit her Dad, he was sitting in a comer crying. Chelsea then grabbed her Mom’s hand and she helped her to the kitchen. By then, the cops had already arrived and took her Dad away.
Of course, her Mom took her Dad back. Chelsea was not getting along with her Dad. Today, Chelsea still does not get along with her Dad. They’ll have their days where they’ll get along. But he stayed out of her way and she stayed out of his way.
Chelsea felt abandoned by her Dad. She felt like she lost a best friend. She felt nothing but hate and anger towards her Dad because of what he did to her Mom right in front of her. Chelsea had thought of her Dad as “Superman.” She thought he was a gentle and kind man. She thought that he wouldn’t hurt a fly. Chelsea felt that when he did that, she lost him. She couldn’t look at her Dad the same way anymore. Chelsea would always worry if he would hit her or not. She always sat there in fear, not knowing what he would do to someone next.
Today, Chelsea and her Dad get along. They talked about it and opened up to each other. But Chelsea still has that fear of him going crazy again. Chelsea missed her old Dad, the one she knew and wasn’t scared of when she was younger.
1st Place English – Returning Up North After Seven Years
By Helene Pelchat
James Bay Eeyou School, Chisasibi
On this essay, I will write about what I did or what I experienced these past seven years down south. I will describe my previous experiences in the three different places where I used to live and where I am living now. I will describe it with the moving, my school years, friends and family. As a matter of fact, it was not easy moving almost every two years. In addition, I had to adapt to the cities where I lived in. From a small village up north, to big cities down south was suprisingly different for me. But now I know how to support myself in those individual places.
Hull – Between 1997 to 1999, I lived in Hull, Quebec. We moved there because my father went to college. Our moving was a big event for me. The first few days that we arrived I was not quite in the mood to fix my stuff because I wanted to play with my new friends. My parents were busy too. In September, my dad and I started school. He was in college and me in grade 2. After the summer holidays, we started school at the same place, this time I was in grade three. I had a hard time in my math but still passed my year with a little help from my dad. In summer 1999, we decided to move once again, this time to Montreal.
Montreal – Between 1999 to 2003, I lived in Montreal, Quebec. We lived in St-Leonard area for one year. I went to school in grade 4. I did not have a hard time with my work but I had problems with some students. On the other side, I had lots of friends in my class. The best time I had at my school was the recess. At year 2000, my mom was pregnant with my brother and we moved to the St-Michel district. It was really a quiet place to live. I made a new friend, her name was Khadidja and she was Arab. I learned a few words from her language and she learned a few words in our language. It was a special experience learning each other language. I went to school in grade 5 and 6 at the same school and I went to Secondary I in a huge high school, bigger than in Chisasibi. My father finished his university in May 2003. We were very happy for him. In July, we moved up North to our hometown, Chisasibi.
Up North: Chisasibi – We arrived here in June. For one week, we’ve stayed at my grandparent’s house. After, we moved in an apartment for one month. In August, we moved back for good at my grandparent’s house. When I started school in Secondary II, I found it too easy, so the principal decided to put me in Secondary III. I find the school too free, the teachers are alright but I do not like the students with bad attitudes. Still, I have two real friends at my side, one of them is pretty close to me. On the other hand, I find the village a bit too boring, they don’t give enough activities for the kids my age. I love to stay here with my family and we think we will stay here for one year or two. After my school years in Secondary, I will move out and go live somewhere else to attend my scholarship in college and in university.
I will conclude by saying that all these seven years living down south I’ve really enjoyed it. Why? Well because I love to see new places, new stores, new museums, new people, new friends and being part of different experiences. I learned so much down south. Like I said I will return to attend my fellow years in school. For now, I will finish my high school years up here in the North…
2nd Place English
By Anthony Orr
Grade 5 English,
Luke Mattaweskum School,
Hi! My name is Anthony. My imagination is ‘my world’. My world is named Zepher. Here’s what it’s like. It’s a world with ten people, you can breath under water, fly in the air, some towns are made of candy and there are big hills and valleys with any animal you can dream of. Even ones that don’t exist!
Anything you think of becomes true. Well…almost anything.
The only people on Zephir are; my Mom, my cousins, my friends, my sister and my Dad.
My world also has my imaginary friends who don’t count as people. The names of the real people are Mom, Dad, Weja, Nathan, Crystal, David, Patrick, Chariot, Bryon and Tryston.
The breathing under water can only be done in a really big lake called Shib-shob-tiggwob. A lot of people swim in that lake.
Flying in the air is fun, so fun that it seems like you’re going faster than the speed of light.
The towns made of candy are the best places you will see in your life. The houses are made of ginger bread. The people in the towns are gummy bears. The wheels of cars are marshmallows, and wood is chocolate. The hills and valleys are so beautiful, more beautiful than you’ll ever believe. Some flowers and plants grow as tall as the CN Tower! The animals will let you ride them. The bugs are strong enough to lift or carry an elephant!
In my world, there’s no such thing as money. Everything is free. Everyone can get what they want with a snap, a clap or a wink. The weather can be changed with a push of a button. Anything can come to life when you want it to. Toys can walk around and do real things.
This is the way it is in my world.
3rd Place English
My Family Camp
By Eddy Thusky
Secondary III, James Bay Eeyou School, Chisasibi
Our camp is situated just above Ottawa Lake. It isn’t near the city. There are no rivers nearby, although the lake is joined to the Ottawa River. There isn’t a stream nearby and the road to the cabin is gravel. You could get there by skidoo or by vehicle. It is about 20 hours from here, but this is a wild guess on my part. The time it takes to get there depends on which road you take.
You can take two roads to get there. Both of these roads are separated by 50 kilometres. One road is about 100 kilometres to our cabin or camp. Maybe it is more than 100 kilometres because it takes four to five hours of driving. The other road takes longer because you have to go around Rapide Lake. It takes about 45 minutes to go around the lake and then it is about two to three and a half hours from the lake.
Our cabin is located to the south of Chisasibi. It has a small porch in front. The roof is covered with black asphalt. It is a homemade cabin, meaning nobody helped us except for family. It was made when I was three or four, I don’t quite remember. It hasn’t yet been renovated and it’s a pretty old looking house, um cabin. The walls are made out of plywood. There is only one door in front and it has three windows, one in the back and two big windows upfront. In the middle of the two large windows is the door. Once inside it’s pretty comfortable and you feel like you are home, but on the outside, which is pretty ugly, it hasn’t yet been finished but that’s okay because that’s the way it should be, so my family says anyway. It is not painted, either inside or out, although it has some wallpaper here and there on the outside.
There is one large table on the inside with six chairs in the centre. When walking in you see the kitchen on the far left with a lot of cupboards filled with dishes and cooking ustensils. On the far right you see stove and all around it are comfy couches. Toward the back are screens suspended above beds, which protect us from mosquitoes in summer. At one time we had a bigger cabin which was about three times the size of this one and two and a half times taller. It was massive, but we got kicked out by loggers. Immediately after this we started building a smaller cabin.
A day at the cabin is fun, mostly because it is packed with relatives. All my family is scattered now. Two of my aunties live in the US, one in West Virginia and the other in New York, one is in Ottawa and one is in Manitoba and another in Lac Simon and one in Megan-aigik. There is one in Winiway, Rapide Lake and in Kitiganzibi. Here I’m in Chisasibi, so it’s fun when we all go to the cabin. The food we eat is mostly meat and lots of it. My uncles are extremely successful moose hunters.
1er place Français
Mon Expérience à Chisasibi
Par Kamala Héroux Houle
James Bay Eeyou School,
Je suis arrivée à Chisasibi le 1er septembre 2002. Les raisons de ma présence ici: mon père travaille pour la compagnie Northern Stores et il aime vivre dans le Nord. Mon petit frère et moi devions le suivre. Quand nous sommes arrivés dans la maison qui nous était désignée, j’en ai fait le tour et avec la curiosité qui m’habite, je voulais à tout prix visiter le village. Une heure après, nous l’avons fait et j’ai reconnu le Mitchuap que j’avais vu à plusieurs reprises dans les guides touristiques de la Baie James. Je trouvais agréable de voir quelques tipis montés et des gens qui parlaient une langue que je n’avais jamais entendue avant. Alors c’est là que ma vie a commencée au village…
Quelques jours après mon arrivée, j’ai commencé à aller à l’école en secondaire III. Bien sûr, j’étais en classe française car je ne savais pas un mot en anglais et encore moins en cri. J’étais gênée en classe, mais rapidement, je suis devenue amicale avec l’une des filles. Je me souviens aussi que les premiers mots en cri que j’ai appris étaient ‘taan aa iihtiyin’ et ‘taapwaa wiyaash’. Je voulais apprendre quelques mots, mais je ne m’en rappelais jamais, c’était compliqué!
Le cours de cri était mon cours préféré car j’avais appris à faire des mocassins – je n’étais pas très douée – et des mitaines. J’adorais les mitaines que les gens portaient et j’en voulais à tout prix. Alors ma professeure Martha, aussi gentille qu’elle était, m’a appris comment en faire. Malheureusement, les premières mitaines que j’ai faites étaient trop petites. J’ais fait une deuxième paire et pour être sûre de ne pas les perdre, j’ai même brodé mon nom en cri. Je connaissais tous les symboles du dialecte du Nord. Je savais faire quelque chose que les ‘liyiyuuschii’ savaient faire. Dans le fond, j’étais fière de moi. J’ai appris quelques mots en cri cet hiver-là car mon amie Mary et sa famille m’invitaient souvent à aller chez eux. De plus, je parlais un peu plus l’anglais qu’en début d’année.
Eh oui, cette année mon anglais est correct (excepté pour l’accent) et j’apprends toujours des petits mots en cri qui sont importants. Je travaille et je continue d’aller à l’école en secondaire IV. Il me reste un an ici pour compléter mon secondaire, alors ce n’est pas encore fini…
Merci à Mary Seal hunter et à sa famille. Je ne vous oublierai pas…
Merci à Martha Bearskin qui a été une bonne professeure de cri pour moi. Thanks to Mary Sealhunter and to her family. I will never forget you… Thanks to Martha Bearskin who is a good Cree language teacher.
2e Place Français
Par Jonathan Hester
Bonjour, je m’apelle Jonathan Hester. J’ai 14 ans. Je suis en Secondaire II et je vais à l’école Wiinibekuu. Je vais vous parler de l’emploi que j’aimerais occuper quand je vais être plus âgé. J’aimerais être joueur de baseball.
Pour faire ce métier, il faut être capable de bien travailler en équipe. J’aimerais être avec les New York Yankees parce que j’aimerais jouer avec Derek Jeter: il est très bon, c’est lui le capitaine de l’équipe. Quand je ferais des erreurs, il pourrait me donner des conseils.
Je devrai voyager pour faire cet emploi parce qu’il faut aller dans d’autres villes jouer contre les autres équipes. Je jouerais trois heures par jour, parfois ça pourrait être plus long.
Je pense que je vais faire cet emploi presque toute ma vie parce que j’aime vraiment jouer au baseball. Je pense que je vais être au champ gauche: j’aime attraper les balles en plein air. Quand j’aurai 40 ans, je ne pourrai plus jouer alors je voudrais être entraineur des New York Yankees parce qu’ils ont gagné beaucoup de championnats.
Je dois terminer mon Secondaire V pour jouer dans les ligues majeures. Je dois aussi aller au collège. Evidemment, je devrai quitter Waskaganish, mais je reviendrai toujours ici!
3e Place Français
Bonjour à tous
Par Judy Trapper
Premièrement je vais me présenter. Je m’apelle Judy Trapper et j’ai 14 ans. Je suis en Secondaire III. Je suis née à Amos. Je vais à l’école à Amos en français, mais je suis inscrit à Waskaganish.
Alors, je vais vous parler de mes expériences et des affaires dans le bois. La première fois que j’y ai été, quand j’avais deux ans. J’ai souvent été dans le bois. J’ai appris plein d’affaires par mes parents. Par exemple; faire du banik, cuire du lièvre, faire du castor. Mais j’ai appris plus que ça. Des fois c’est tellement amusant avec mes sœurs et mon frère dans le passé. Mes parents m’ont montré comment vivre dans le bois. Je suis très contente de comprendre des choses par mes parents, Ronnie Trapper et Margaret Trapper. Ils vont toujours dans le bois pendant un mois au moins. Mais moi je suis habitué d’aller dans le bois. C’est tout ce que j’ai à dire. J’aimerais dire à la Nation Crie, Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année à tous!