Miriam Moar, Secondary 5, English, Ecole Wiinibekuu School

An Elder is one of the older, longer experienced, influential members of a family and community. This definition of what an Elder is should mean something to us. We need to respect their role by showing them that we are there to listen and take the advice they give us. We need to esteem them as precious and valuable.

Bert Moar is an Elder of my family and also my grandfather. He was born in Trout River, on May 10,1934. He was brought up to learn what it means to respect his Elders. When he got married and had his own children, he did not hesitate to teach them the same. Even though he had made a few mistakes in his first years of parenthood, when he gave his life to Jesus Christ, he learned his mistakes and wanted his children to learn from him. He didn’t look at age when it came to disciplining them.

When my grandfather was young he knew how to take responsibility. When he was fifteen years old he worked his first job as a guide at Mclean’s camp. He also worked in the school, his job there was getting pails of water. Some other jobs he had worked were as a carpenter helping to build the houses in Rupert House, for Hydro-Quebec and, at a mine in Chapais. The job I remember he had was being a guide at Cabbage Willows camp. Later, in the years working there he became the head guide. I remember living with my grandparents at the camp. At the camp there were a lot of non-native people, mostly men that came huntingfor snow goose. They came from various places like France, United States, and many other places. My grandfather became good friends with these people. The last time he worked at the camp was in the fall of 1992, then they made their living in the bush at my grandpa’s trap line.

We used to go hunting with our grandfather. I remember one time in the spring we went hunting, there were a couple of us in that blind. We were wearing long white coats, and they told us to roll up so the geese wouldn’t see us. I asked them why we did that, I asked, “Is it because they’ll think that we’re eggs?” They still talk about that today, I guess they thought that was a pretty amusing question.

On February 5, 1995 my grandparents were in their trapping line, which they call saakikaan. It was just another ordinary day for my grandfather to go out and check his beaver traps. That was when he got that unexpected white coloured beaver. He took the Albino beaver home to his wife, when she saw the beaver she had a surprised expression. My grandfather said proudly, “Now that’s a hunter, killing somethingthis unusual.” I was so proud of my grandfather when I first heard about this. He was also interviewed by Gaston Cooper and Arnold Cheechoo on the CBC radio.

Hunting and trapping was a very important part of my grandfather’s life, this was something that heenjoyed doing. Right now my grandfather is in the hospital in Chisasibi, he can’t do what he used todo. He got diabetes a while ago, and in the spring of 1996 his foot was amputated because it couldn’theal by itself, and there was nothing else the doctors could do. The reason why my grandfather is inthe hospital now is because he has a kidney problem, he’s having a treatment called hemodialysis threetimes a week.

That is the reason why he can’t be here at home, the treatment is not provided here. Since the time he’s been in Chisasibi he’s been hospitalized a few times. My grandmother is there with him. I know it’s not easy for them, that they’re not in their hometown with their family and friends. It’s hard for me without seeing my grandparents when I go visit their home here in Waskaganish; I miss them a lot.

That is why it’s important to be respectful towards our Elders and especially towards our own grandparents; we don’t know what will happen to them and how long we’ll see them.

We are to speak kindly to our Elders; to speak otherwise is being disrespectful. Our actions are to show respect verbally and physically. At no time we should yell at them; unless of course, they have a hard time hearing. We should never verbally abuse an Elder. They are to be treated in a courteous manner.

They have gleaned a lot of wisdom from their long life, and they have a lot of knowledge on wisdom to share with the younger generation.

I’ve shown my grandparents honour and respect throughout myyounglife. I’ve never raised my voice in anger with them; never said a word out of disrespect, but always spoke lovingly and kindly towards them. I’ve shown them that I love them by hugging them and showering them with kisses, and in turn, they’ve done the same to me, and still do to this day.

Each one of us in the younger generation should be thankful for each of our Elders and look uponeach one as if they were our own grandparents and give them the honour and respect they deserve.