Here I am in mid-air again with the Roundtable crew flying from Whapmagoostui to the heart of the Cree Nation, my hometown Nemaska. The stars have aligned to visit this wonderful place again.
This time I brought along Googoom Mary Iserhoff, my dad’s mom and the only googoom I have ever known. Googoom Iserhoff was intrigued by the Great Whale’s landscape. She was surprised by how much sand dominates the landscape there. She was impressed with the Inuit housing suspended in the air.
Her visit to Kilometre 9 was the icing on the cake. The cultural setting and mingling with fellow Elders made googoom feel at home. She made new friends, including a “special friend” named James Kawapit. As Gramma told me, “He’s not too tall and 79 is not all that bad!”
“Grandpa” James already plans to come to Mistissini for an Elders’ meeting. They’re hoping to fiddle dance together, if there’s a dance at one of the evenings! At 87, Googoom Iserhoff still sometimes lives by herself in her cabin at Perch near Mistissini. She’s always grateful to see another day and now to visit a community she had long hoped to see – perhaps have found a boyfriend too! That is too sweet.
I am always impressed with our non-Cree friends who can speak fluently in Cree. While in Whapmagoostui, Gramma and I were able to see Rod and Lisele Bartlett. The Bartletts lived in Mistissini for many years during the 1980s and worked with several linguists, including my Aunt Louise, on the translation of the Bible. Though they left Mistissini 24 years ago, they were still able to speak Cree to Googoom Iserhoff.
If you want to impress an Elder, learn how to speak in Cree. You’ll be loved forever: just ask Brian Craig, the beloved Waskaganish honorary Eeyou! I hope Sunfa and Thomas haven’t forgotten their Cree either. I think some of these non-Cree friends of ours speak more fluently than some of our Cree kids. Yikes! Sook ma eeyou’yim daou.
I think we have a couple more golf benefits to attend. The music festivals may have played their last note. Fishing derbies have gracefully reeled in their lures until next year, but I am truly saddened to hear no one won the $10,000 prize for the biggest Walleye at Waswanipi’s derby!
Some poor fish now has a permanent lure lodged within its cheeks. I don’t know how the fish kingdom will view their lucky doré but I hope it will soon be gracing a lovely bouillabaisse.
With all of the happy summer luxury gatherings winding up, we now can enjoy some major blueberry picking. As for Googoom Iserhoff, she cannot wait to go picking her favourite patch. Gramma can sit for hours and pick them blueberries until the sun goes down. With my busy schedule, I hope I can whisk myself to my “spot” and gather some berries. Who knows, perhaps shoot a moose while lying on a bed of blueberries.
In closing, or almost, I’d like to give a Happy Birthday shout-out to my dear dad. I’ve also just been informed our Cree students have already started school, poor kids. I hope you all have a great year!
And rest in peace, Robin Williams – you were the funniest man alive.