For my people, the James Bay Muskego Cree, spring represents hope, change and replenishment. This is the time when the geese will begin to fly back to us so that we can eat. It is also the time when the animals and the land are on the move.

It has been a long, hard winter and sadly I have seen sickness in my family and friends. However, today is one of those great spring-like days. There is change in the air and a warm sun beats down from the deep blue sky. The snow is melting and water runs along the streets of the town. Spring birds are appearing early and I can hear them outside my window in the morning.

Today is all about good news. There is a new baby in my circle of friends. Her name is Sara Nicole Swartz. She arrived at 10:01 am on March 13 in the Timmins and District Hospital. At birth, she was 19 inches long and weighed seven pounds and eight ounces. Sara is one lucky little baby to be born to my friends Andrew and Carmen Swartz. She couldn’t have picked more kind or more loving parents anywhere in this world.

Sara comes to us with a lot to live up to as she is named in memory of Sara Paquette, a long-time resident of Iroquois Falls and grandmother to Andrew. In keeping with family, her middle name Nicole is for Carmen’s sister. No doubt, proud great grandpa Don Paquette and his friend Bernie will be doing their best to spoil baby Sara as will great grandma Margaret Bernier. My congratulations to grandparents Beverly Anne Forget, Donna and Dave McEwan and Tom Swartz, all of Iroquois Falls.

Having grown up in a huge family in Attawapiskat First Nation, I understand theimportance of the arrival of a new baby. We Cree make a big deal of this event. Perhaps it has something to do with our struggle to survive in very hard and sometimes stark conditions on the land.

Most of the families I knew up the coast were very large. Although this always meant one more mouth to feed, at the same time it was one more step in ensuring the survival of our people.

These days, families up the coast are getting smaller and I suppose this is the result of changing times. We live in a more modern society where we do not have to struggle as hard to survive. That makes the arrival of new babies all the more precious.

All the boys from my family learned from an early age how to care for babies. I know all about changing diapers, comforting and walking babies, dressing them for the cold and making them feel loved.

Some people might find a crying baby hard to take but it is a normal part of life for me. I was raised in a small home that was very crowded and always full of babies. Sometimes there is nothing more beautiful than a little one crying out for attention.

All of the babies in my family are rapidly growing. Little Lynniah, Liam, Orion and Ekwan are the youngest children in my family and they are growing as fast as spring grass.

There is nothing like a new baby to perk everybody up. Grey days and cold weather will soon be a thing of the past. Thanks to the arrival of little Sara, spring seems all the closer as new life sweeps like a wave across the land. Welcome home Sara.