Watchiya! As you may know, the Rupert’s River is still at risk of losing its life. A group though is still out there who are working from the heart to try and save her (the river) from being extinguished. Last summer a group made up of Cree and nonnatives paddled down the river to create awareness of her beauty and the true life that she provided and still provides for all species of life all around this planet. Including us.
We all know that the agreement signed by our leaders really tore a hole in many of our hearts and left us painfully wounded and confused. Well again Mother Earth can come to the rescue. All mothers show unconditional love and who knows of a better place to get comforting than that of the arms of our mother “Pikutiskwaau.” Pikutiskwaau is our Cree name for our Mother Earth. Ask Robbie Matthew about Pikutiskwaau, or watch the new Cree School Board video called Pikutiskwaau, and you will all know the truth. I for one and many of us never even heard that ancient Cree word “Pikutiskwaau” until the video came out a little while ago and until Robbie Matthew came to our college class and explained to us the true meaning of the word. We could not help but shed tears. Paddling on one of Pikutiskwaau’s veins (Rupert’s River) really, really helps to bring peace and healing to one’s heart because you can feel the love of your mother around and beneath you.
When I paddled down the river last summer, I felt the positive power of our natural surroundings, but around every bend, every rapid, and every calm, I also felt the power of the “other energy,” “the negative one,” which left me in total disbelief that anyone would sacrifice a beautiful river of this magnitude for so called progress.
In this day and age, progress is when you are able to advance forward with your beliefs, your culture, and most of all your natural surroundings intact, just the way it was meant to be. Personally, I would rather sacrifice myself today for the children of tomorrow than sacrifice the children of tomorrow for my selfish self today. What I mean by this is; in 25 years from now, scientists are predicting extreme difficulties with our water resource. Fresh, natural, pristine water will become scarce. Our children and all the animals of tomorrow will need these pristine water systems intact in order to survive. These are my grand-children and also yours. Our ancestors remind us of this time and time again that we have to take care of the earth because she takes care of us. David Suzuki from the Nature of Things also repeats this. This water problem does not go only for our Cree children, but for the children around the world. This is the truth.
For the paddle trip, I spent only $100 on gas and food supplies. The funny thing was that when I was done my part of the trip, I had almost all my food left that I had bought. Almost all my nourishment came from the river. So in reality I had only spent about $50 on supplies, and Mother Earth provided the rest. Throughout our paddle, we would just scoop the water from the river and drink it to quench our thirst. This is almost one of our last rivers we can do this from in “lyiyuuschii” (James Bay Cree land). Being able to scoop water directly from a river and drinking it is becoming so rare that the people who live in the south are shocked to see us just scooping the water and drinking it. They ask us in total disbelief “You can do that???” Leaving us to question what the water situations like where they come from. “It must be pretty bad down there hunh?” Also we would just cast fishing lures out to catch our lunches and suppers. The fish in the Rupert’s River are awesome. The fish species in the river system include sacred prehistoric sturgeon, speckle trout, lake trout, walleye, pike, white fish, suckers, burbot, and many other smaller species of fish. The water, the fish, the plant life, and the tiny little organisms provide life for every living species on this planet. The river is pure and toxic free right from the heart of Mistissini Lake, all the way down to Waskaganish, James Bay. We can’t destroy that. Destroy this; destroy us and everything else with it. Bottom Line.
We will be paddling down the Rupert’s River again this summer with the Rupert River Reverence in order to save the river from being dammed and diverted, or even to at least say that we are taking a stand and that we will be able to tell our children we did so. Whatever results come out of our stand, I know it will all be positive, whether we save the river or not. We are doing what our hearts tell us and what our ancestors have been telling us since time immemorial. I have total faith in this. Could it be that they (our leaders) were led to this desperate situation (AIP) because they have not been listening to our grass roots people or to people who were honest about our dysfunctional situations, but to others (consultants, lawyers) who have no idea what it’s truly like to be in the reserves living constantly in the clutches of the government and their prideless handouts? Anyway, back to the river. So again, we will be paddling down the river and if any of you out there are willing to tag along and support the cause or even just to go on a beautiful vacation for a week or two you are most welcome. Remember, it’s from the heart and we need to give back to the river or “Pikutiskwaau” if you like. We owe it to her.
Another thing I would like to mention is that you don’t have to join the group right from the beginning of the trip. For those of you who just don’t have the time to paddle the whole journey but really want to take part or show you care, you can join at different legs of the journey.
The beginning of the journey starts from the route du nord down to Waskaganish. The following mini chart will show the different legs you can join from and the approximate amount of days it takes to travel. Weather and maybe a few mishaps can account for delays, which is okay. It’s natural.
Route du nord – Waskaganish: 10 to 12 days.
Old Nemaska – Waskaganish: 7 -8 days.
Rupert River Bridge – Waskaganish: 4-5 days.
Smokey hills – Waskaganish: 1 day.
Departure from Lac Mez gouze Km 221 route du nord July 26 03. Arrival at km 238 route du nord July 30-31 – Freddy Jolly’s camp. Arrival and stay at old Nemaska August 6-8 then depart. Arrival at Rupert River bridge to Km 257 James Bay Highway, August 10-12 Then depart for Waskaganish and arrive at Waskaganish August 18,19. Remember you can join from Smoky Hills for the day to Waskaganish.
If you would like more information just punch in Rupert River Reverence on the web and there you have it, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Eric Gagnon, Lindy Moar, Freddy Jolly, Lisa Petagumskum, and myself for updates on the departure date. Hope to see you there.