When the Route du Nord was proposed at a meeting in 1988, Freddy Jolly was the only Cree trapper present who would be affected by the road. Jolly told The Nation he felt it was wrong not to include them in the decision to build the road. “People from other communities and places made that decision for us. I don’t think it was right that someone from elsewhere made those decisions without all of us trappers present.”
That was the beginning of a long hard road for Freddy Jolly. During that walk he has said he felt abandoned by the Cree leadership and had his sanity and mental stability questioned when he first tried to resolve the problem. Then, Jolly did something unexpected when he sought legal help against a Cree company. In fact, the most successful of Cree companies -Cree Construction.
Jolly felt the court case was the only way he would see justice. He said he felt pain when he was in the court room but gathered strength from letters of support he was carrying with him.
One of his daughters, Myra Jolly, wrote she loves him. “No matter what happens you still have a family that loves you and no matter what people say or words that might hurt you just keep going.”
Another daughter, Ruth Jolly, writes that she knows what her father is going through isn’t easy and she believes in her father. “I’m very glad that I have a father like you, cause you stand by what you believe in and you never give up… I know you didn’t finish high school but to me I think you’re the smartest person I ever met in my whole life, cause when you talk about our trapline, your words are so powerful and I respect you for that.”
Another supporter, Neke, comes from Vermont. Neke had visited Jolly on his trapline and wrote about going out camping with friends in the U.S. and finding four dead deer with trophy heads and only a little meat missing. “Last year I would have yelled that all human hunters are brutes and heartless. I know now that it is not all hunters, just ignorant ones. This is a great lesson for me to learn and it took 20 years to find someone to teach it..”
Jolly said that these helped to remind him he wasn’t alone in the courtroom.