The new president of the Cree Trappers Association was elected on August 19, 2002, to a three year term. Although Johnny Cooper does not trap right now, (he stopped in 1986) he remembers being on the trapline with his family when he was younger. Cooper says that they would go out into the bush in September and not return again until May of the following year. He learned to trap with his parents and his grandparents, aunts and uncles and some of his fondest memories are of being in the bush. He remembers the freshness of everything he ate. Dinners would be the newly caught rabbit or the fish from the net if no game were available. Although he is no longer on a trapline. Cooper still remembers the feeling when he goes out to speak with the tallymen or to visit with the trappers. He says he knows what they feel and he understands them.

The beaver season has just begun and Cooper is not sure how many traplines there are. By his guessing, not including all the territories, there are definitely over 200. He did tell me that traplines are never abandoned. Some may be left alone for a period of years, as goes with the cycle of what game is available, but they are never abandoned.

Over the next three years, we can expect to see many changes within the CTA and the way its programs are run, as Cooper wants the programs to be available as quickly as possible. There are going to be other changes, as well, with the signing of the Peace of the Brave in terms of the trappers having a say in forestry management and that to the fact that at least 11 traplines are going to be lost due to the EM1 project. The fate of the trappers on these lines is not yet known, but Cooper says that it is the Cree way that trappers will have to make some concessions and adjustments. He says it is like that when areas are affected by fires and trappers have to find other traplines to trap on.

As for environmental damages, like the toxins found in the fish in OJ, he will not venture to make a prediction of the long term affects, but he did say that “everything that affects the environment, affects all the other species.” With the signing of the Peace of the Brave, though, Cooper does see a future for trapping and hunting. He feels certain that there will always be the traditional ways available to the Cree and it is what he hopes to retire to one day.