Old Factory River is our ancestral highway, where our grandparents and great-grandparents traveled inland to trap for the winter and to Old Factory Island to trade in the summer time. We hear many stories of their expeditions from the past and now we have our own stories to tell our grandchildren thanks to Old Factory River.
This Youth Canoe Expedition is about paddling, portaging, paddling and some more portaging. Sometimes it’s relaxing and is hard word. Basically it’s a little adventure. An adventure that challenges you, frustrates you, but at the end of the day you feel a sense of contentment, you reflect to yourself the little glories you had, going through the rapids without your canoe tipping over or just laughing at those close calls.
Then you can’t help you but wonder what it must’ve been like a long time ago. You think about the history of the river and the people that traveled it and then you find yourself thinking how special this river is and the stories it has and that’s when you realize that you are part of the river and its stories and that you have continued a tradition. A tradition where your ancestors traveled to survive, to prosper and with this in mind you realize that they did this with hope. Indeed you say to yourself, “Life is an expedition.”
The purpose of this expedition is to get the youth together in a cultural setting and a chance for them to get to know and to talk to one another.
I would like to thank all of the 36 brave souls that participated in this expedition and to our guides, James Shash, John Mist Sr., and most importantly, Jimmy “Mitchik” Georgekish. My ultimate joy was not the expedition itself but sharing the company of all of you. And a special thanks to the Stewart family. Without your consent and collaboration wouldn’t be possible.
by R.H. Mark
Cree Nation of Wemindji