Someone asked me the other day if it was time for me to get a hair cut. As a matter of fact, I have not had any shears, scissors or stylist touch my head in over a decade. I understood why my friend asked me about getting a haircut. After all, I wear my hair in a pony tail that runs down the length of my back.

There are no barbers or hair stylists in remote First Nation communities, but of course people still need this service in order to groom themselves and their children during the year.

Thankfully, just about every family has some brave soul who is willing to take the risk of cutting or styling someone else’s hair with little or no experience. Usually these adventurous family members gain their experience by experimenting on their younger siblings, who are not yet overly concerned about their hair style or appearance.

Teenagers who are looking for a hair cut are more cautious and self conscious about their appearance. They are pretty choosey about who they will let cut their hair.

When our family was just starting out and the children were young, mom was the one who took the responsibility of cutting hair. She never really had time to learn the fine art of hair styling, so for the first few years of our lives, we were given the basic brush cut. This hair style, if you can call it that, was performed by using a barber’s shears to cut every blade of hair to the exact same length, usually an inch or two above the scalp.

I can understand why mom had to do this to us because she never had the time to learn to become a barber and she just simply could not accommodate our various desires. For the first few years of our lives, after a hair cut and wash, we looked liked little fuzz balls. Thankfully, we did not really have to endure much ridicule from other children because they looked like us.

As time progressed my sister Janie was the one who decided to take up the art of hair styling. Janie is the third oldest member of our family of nine siblings, which meant she had a pool of six younger brothers with big heads of hair that would provide her with lots of training.

At first, she continued where mom left off and cut our hair accordingly. However, as she built up her confidence, she began to experiment. First she would trim and style and if that did not work out, we normally ended up with another brush cut. It was a sort of evolution of sorts, our brush cuts slowly turned intostyled hair cuts over the years, until Janie became skilled enough for us to give her full confidence in her abilities.

However, she still wrestled with inexperience from time to time. I remember one year when I was going to receive my first communion from the Catholic Church. I was 10 years of age and I was just starting to become aware of my appearance. For people up the coast, first communion is a major occasion in a young person’s life.

Janie promised to cut my hair before the day of the event and I waited for her to work on my overgrown mane. However, due to all sorts of reasons, she left the task to the last minute.

As I sat down, with a black plastic bag wrapped around my neck to keep the falling hair off my clothes, she explained that she had learned a new hair style. She decided to give me a styled cut of spiked hair that was fashionable with young boys in the late 1980s. Janie provided a great sales pitch and was already hard at work doing her magic before I knew what was happening.

Everything seemed to be going okay. She was cutting, combing and trimming while the clock ticked closer to the big event. Suddenly, she let out a light gasp and paused. This caused me some alarm but she convinced me that everything was under control. Regretfully she finally had to tell me that in the rush she had made a slip and shaved away a huge patch of hair right down to the skin. In an act of quick thinking and resourcefulness, she located a large magic marker and painted black on the nearly bald portion of my scalp. Then she piled on generous amounts of stiffening hair gel to paste any nearby hair over top of the bald patch.

My first communion was a success and surprisingly nobody seemed to notice the hole in my head. Janie had risen to the challenge and she created a modern hair style that everyone seemed to appreciate, including myself.

Come to think of it at one point I simply decided that maybe it made more sense just to grow my hair long. It sort of came out of many experiences around the living room with someone busy at experimenting on my hair. These days I am very happy to do a little of my own trimming and more or less leaving my hair alone. I prefer it to a brush cut.