I don’t know if a memory walk is just a Cree thing or if any other Aboriginal group also practices it. I remember my first one. It was a number of years ago and I flew into the bush with a group. We came to Cree trappers’ winter camp. The trapper remembered my grandfather and how he would come to his camp to buy furs. I ended up doing the same, checking out his furs and grading them in my mind. Finally I called the trapper over and told him I wanted a particular one. He gave me a price with a smile. I, of course, bargained with the trapper, bringing down his price. He enjoyed it as much as I did. I got the beaver pelt for the huge sum of $10.
I think grandpa would have been proud of me.
The second time was unintentional. It just sort of happened during a story I was doing. I had joined a wellness walk. One day while snowshoeing along, talking to the dogs, it struck me that this was how my great-grandparents had lived on the land. So it became a memory walk for me in their honour.
This latest memory walk took place at the end of February. Instead of being one that I would do alone it would be with some other people and it would be for a friend we lost but never forgot. It was hard to forget Lawrence Sciapo. He was full of life and laughter. It was rare to see him without a grin and it was downright infectious. Lorenzo, as we called him, took me out and I killed my first two caribou with him. He made sure that I knew what I was doing when I skinned and butchered them.
He was like that with everyone. He was always helpful but never condescending. He was a hunter and a trapper. Lawrence was truly a child of the land. He took pleasure in sharing his life and knowledge. When Gary, Steven, Eric and myself went on the memory walk we went to Tallyman Steven Nine’o’clock’s land. This is where Lawrence spent most of his time on the land. We did the things he would have been still doing if we hadn’t lost him. We trapped a couple of beaver, two porcupines, killed some ptarmigan and I shot a caribou. It’s hard to describe what you feel on these walks so I decided to photograph it to give you an idea of what it is all about. Lawrence, we miss you but we’ll never forget you.