Billy Stephen, Waskaganish: When I was young, children usually just got bannock for Christmas. Our parents always reminded us that Christmas is Jesus’ Birthday so we were always happy to celebrate Christmas even with just a little food. Just before Christmas our Dad told us to go cut down a small tree and place it somewhere where Santa Claus can see it as a marker to find our place. Next day on Christmas we got up early to go check our tree and we would find our Christmas stockings hanging there with just a few candies or some cookies in it, the tree wasn’t decorated either, but people we were still happy to celebrate Christmas.
Juiette Martin, Waswanipi: I remember one Christmas when I was a kid. I only got a Moose chin, a part that’s very good to eat. That’s all I got for a Christmas present. My Dad would walk to the old Waswanipi post to pick up a few goodies like chocolate and other goodies but we had all our traditional foods like moose and rabbit for our Christmas dinner. There wasn’t much to give to children but we were still happy to see another Christmas no matter where you lived.
Stephen Ratt, Wemindji: This is not that long ago – back in 1959 we were in the bush. I remember I was asked to stay up and help my mother with the Christmas stockings for my younger brothers. My dad used to make toys out of wood to give us for Christmas.
Woman would make mittens from whatever scraps they could gather to give to their children. During Christmas everybody would get together in one tee-pee and enjoy the Indian steam pudding that my mother would make. We would have that for our Christmas dinner along with beaver meat and rabbit cooked in different styles. Berries were gathered in the early fall and stored away for the Christmas feast. Often my mother would make bannock and stuff it with blue berries at Christmas time and that was good.
Lucy Rupert, Whapmagoostui:
Around the first week of December people would get ready for Christmas. Many times we just had fish or porcupine meat and ptarmigan. I remember one Christmas I only had bannock in my stocking. The young people would go sliding down the hill standing up and perform stunts, they were fun to watch. Everyone was poor in those days. But we were happy at Christmas time although we didn’t have much. I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year and to all of you at the Nation office keep up the good work.
George Mayappo, Eastmain: When Christmas would get closer people got ready to store away fresh food for their Christmas feast, whether you were in the village or in the bush. In those days there were hardly any store-bought goods to give your children at Christmas time. I remember one time at Christmas I only had in my Christmas stocking a part of a rabbit’s stomach, which is very good to eat. In my days people didn’t have much to celebrate Christmas with, but they always managed to find a way to have fun at Christmas.