Well, another year has come and gone. I hope you’re rested from the ups and downs of last year and ready to meet the new. It has been an interesting year for the Crees. We have seen a new opening up on the part of the leadership, both local and regional, that I hope continues. In today’s world, we need all the information there is in order to make those decisions that will affect our future.

In the past, I have heard some people talk about the Indian Affairs mentality. Basically the Indian Affairs mentality was to let someone else do all the planning and decision-making for you, just like in the old days under Indian Affairs when they had the right to control almost every aspect of Native life.

Some Crees had said that this was continuing on in the latest generations that learned these patterns from their parents.

While I see apathy out there at times, I also see a change in the “Indian Affairs” attitudes also. More and more Cree people are becoming aware of everything that is around them. They are also becoming increasingly aware of their options, actions, effects and responses to perceived infringements of their rights. Crees of both sexes and all ages are actively talking about things they feel deeply are right or wrong. Some have talked about action, others have taken action and still more contemplate action as a response.

The actions I have heard about vary from person to person, age to age.

In determining any responses I would advise one thing. Start in a small group and grow to include as many people as you can. Actively look across the male/female/age spectrum. Youth bring a raw energy and enthusiasm, a new outlook and a desire to do the right thing no matter the consequences; middle-aged people are concerned with families, stability and have a good knowledge of what is happening right now; and Elders bring a vast amount of experience, wisdom and a concern for the well-being of the whole community. Males and females have different strengths that they bring with them. This is by no means a complete list of each members capabilities. But the truth is all elements together make a very strong whole.

And all the different members of a community are required to change things for the better for any community. I know a lot of people are talking about bettering their communities in some ways but I feel that without input from all sections of the community it will never happen because if some party is left out then they’re not satisfied. This is what is good about the community gatherings—they give the opportunity for all residents to come together to discuss community. This needs to be done all year-round instead of just once a year, though, if things are going to change.

I hope the gatherings continue, grow and the New Year sees you well. I also hope it sees you actively meeting the challenges of the New Year as a united community —working for the better of all, not a few.