In the winter of 1999 and 2000, I joined the “Journey Through the Heart of Eeyou Istchee.” Walking for a great part of the day, I had a lot of time to think and to reflect.
Last year when I was on “the journey,” somewhere between Chisasibi and Waskaganish, I was suddenly struck by an interesting question. This question just came upon me. “Indian Time. When did it start?” I continued walking with the youth and suddenly the answer came to me. It felt as if it had landed on me. November 11,1975… the signing of the james bay agreement! that’s it! that’s the right answer.
And then, I could not help at laughing at the answer. As I continued walking, I started talking to myself. “When our leader calls out at 3:00 or 4:00am, “Winiskaaaaaaukw!!!,” It means wake uuuup!!!! If we had left earlier, we would have gone many more kilometres” Then I heard a voice come upon me, it was the voice of an elder. He explained that when he lived in the bush, when the sun rose that’s when he would travel and before sunset he would set up his camp. That was the only way the Elders told time.
Now that we have “Indian Time” we are always late, late for work, late for school, late for meetings, etc… That’s because we signed the “agreement.” That’s when it started.
So, who started the “Indian Time?” I believe it started November 11, 1975! This could be our new years resolution for 2002, abandon “Indian Time” and go back to “Elders Time.”