What would a trip to Waswanipi be like without a little excitement over Paul Dixon’s pickup? Premier Bouchard was in town for a historic visit with the Cree chiefs and the grand opening of Waswanipi’s sawmill. But here was Paul hunched over the wheel of his truck deep in thought. “Do you think my truck is too flashy?” he asked.
That morning, the truck seemed sluggish when Paul started her up for the trip into town. We were going to get a new guinea pig for his son, Michael. We got out and examined the tires. Totally deflated. The two front ones were slashed by a small knife.
I shouldn’t say we were surprised. The day before, Paul was one of a handful of brave—or foolhardy, depending on your outlook—souls who decided they couldn’t let Premier Bouchard blow into town without hearing what the common folk think about forestry and James Bay Part Deux (or is it Duh).
Their protest at the sawmill opening was met by a few isolated boos from the crowd and quiet nods of approval from the Elders present.
After the protest, someone commented, “That Paul’s got cajones.”
But Paul was already wondering about reprisals. “Maybe I should put some tape on my gas tank,” he said. Paul didn’t want to get “sanded.” But it was his tires that ended up paying the price.
Later in a Chibougamau restaurant, we had a laugh about what happened with Matthew Coon Come. He recalled that when he was chief in Mistissini, he faced similar acts of vandalism from disgruntled voters.
“And you thought Montreal was bad,” Matthew laughed.
I ventured, “I guess it’s good The Nation is in Montreal.”