“They that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
This was one of Matthew Neeposh’s favourite Bible verses. An active church member, Uncle Matthew died suddenly in May of unknown causes. He leaves behind his wife Annie, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
One of the 24 children of the late Elder David Neeposh from Waswanipi, Uncle Matthew grew up in the bush most of his life and would have stayed there had he found a job that required him to be close to nature.
I have this regret that I really didn’t know him that well, as I try to remember him as much as I can. I remember him and my late dad going hunting together with my grandfather and coming back late at night. Since my grandfather was in his later years and couldn’t hunt for himself, Uncle Matthew was always ready and willing to provide for him whether it was to go all the way to La Grande 4 and get supplies, a journey that took about 20 hours to get there. But he was always willing to give a helping hand to anyone who needed it.
I had the chance of spending some time with Uncle Matthew. He never asked for much from those people who he knew couldn’t afford anything. He always brought back fresh caribou for whoever wanted some and never asked for payment of any sort.
He grew up around Corvette Lake, which is in the La Grande 4 complex area. Imagine travelling from Mistissini all the way up there. He was one of the few people who had to travel a great distance to go hunting for food and fur. When he met people who were in need along the way, he always stopped to lend a helping hand.
I did some research on what he did in the past. He guided many tourists. I even found that he guided people from Vermont back in 1969 from Mistissini all the way to Matagami. Travelling the Rupert River wasn’t something new for him, including the Nottaway and Broadback Rivers.
Last year, Uncle Matthew made history when he travelled the Rupert from Mistissini to Waskaganish for the last time. He guided a group of Elders, archeologists and young people, including his grandson. The remarks he made while on the trip and in the documentary, Down The Mighty River, left people wondering how many times and how he was able to do this.
I have great respect for Uncle Matthew and for his great dedication to our heritage trying to keep on going and holding onto what should have been passed on to other generations.
I will miss you Uncle Matthew, until the day when the golden bells ring and we are all called up to be with the ones who have gone ahead. I bet you are having a heavenly time with my mom and dad and your parents.