In this day and age, growing up in the world can get a bit dizzying with the speed things are moving and how connected everything is becoming. It is even more so, when growing up and balancing the responsibilities of Native tradition and culture with the hectic life of modern times.
So on the morning of October 8, eight-year-old Jimmy James Neeposh of Mistissini killed his first bull moose making his parents, Daryl Neeposh and Carmilla Gunner, incredibly proud. But that’s not all, Jimmy also plays hockey and recently won in the Canadian National Armwrestling Championships in early September.
His father, Daryl, is the one who introduced him to arm wrestling and is coaching him in hockey. Aside from all of that Jimmy is in school and plays video games like most youth.
He was out hunting with his grandparents, Matthew and Sophie Gunner, on their territory situated by the Temiscamie River. At around 10 am, he got his first big game kill. All it took was one shot from his 30-30 rifle to take down the moose.
His grandfather Matthew is training and guiding the young boy to become a successful hunter and trapper like his great-grandfathers who have all passed on. He has such good aim for a young boy. His grandmother Sophie said that when they go skeet shooting Jimmy makes her proud with his skill and is definitely better than her.
Jimmy also likes to participate in public meetings about the protection of traditional hunting lands from road construction and exploratory mining. In his last meeting, Jimmy made his grandmother tear up when he posed an innocent question to the council. He asked, “Why do people of mines and governments show disrespect for the land and we, children, are told to be respectful to everyone including the land.” The council responded that they will do their best to protect the land.
That is the knowledge his Elders have passed on to him. When he talks about his traditional lands, Jimmy speaks as if he is talking about a person and not a place. His respect for the land is heart-warming as it shows how the next generation is listening and learning from their Elders.
Jimmy will have his grand feast to celebrate his first kill and his blessings from the Creator now that he is a good provider at such a young age. For now, he will continue going to school and hockey practice, but he will also be learning from his family how to hunt and trap.
Though Jimmy is only eight, he has accomplished quite a bit for his age. It is a good thing to see him learning the values and defending them because down the line he is the future of his community. With success this early, we can only wait and see what the next generation is capable of accomplishing.