Thank you to those who took the time to write your essays. There were a lot of issues raised that took a lot of courage to write. For that, we congratulate and admire you. Thank you to the teachers for encouraging the students to write. Thanks also to the Cree School Board, a major sponsor of the Essay. There were $2000 in prizes. Congratulations to all.
Author wishes to remain anonymus
I am a student. I attend Maquatua Eeyou School. A few years back, my father used to drink practically every day. It hurt to see him like that. I didn’t like it. At first I didn’t mind. After that he started to say things that made me cry. Sometimes I would hide downstairs or lock myself in my room. Everywhere I went, there was drinking. My grandfather drank, my aunts, my dad and my uncles. One time my dad was so drunk that he was beating up my mother. It was about 3:00 in the morning. I heard something fall. First I was so scared to check, but I decided to. My mom was sitting on the floor and my dad was kicking and hitting her. I ran back in my room and lay down frightened. My dad came in my room and hit the wall. He gave me a hug and said he was leaving. Then he went to my mom and started yelling at her. She was crying. I started crying and yelled “stop it!” to my father. I was so scared that I picked up the phone and called my aunt. I was crying and telling her about the situation.
Then I ran back in the room and I stood in front of my mom so my dad couldn’t hit her. My younger sister and brother woke up. They started crying. I told them to stay in the room. I was talking to myself saying, “Auntie, hurry up!” My dad left. My aunt came and so did the police. My dad got arrested. They took all four of us to my aunt’s place, where we were interviewed by the police. Also they took pictures. I couldn’t sleep after that happened. I didn’t go to school that day. Then the police came by in the afternoon. They told us my dad didn’t remember a thing and that they were going to fly him out to a rehab center in Amos. I knew that things wouldn’t really be the same. I cried myself to sleep every night. I wanted to believe that it was only a dream (a nightmare).
I started smoking and staying out late. I didn’t want to be home. My life felt different from others. I felt alone in this world. I acted like nothing was happening and I kept it all inside, a smile to hide the pain and the hurting. I hated the world for what happened and I took it out on everyone. At times, I’d want to disappear or just die. But life does go on. My dad sobered up and we are a family once again. I love my family so much. Now I hate myself because I hurt them. I drank a few times. I even tried sniffing and staying out all night. Sometimes I didn’t go home for a day or two. I guess I can’t forget the past. To this day I still cry myself to sleep.
by Cynthia Blackned
Luke Mettaweskum School, Nemaska
Bonjour tout le monde!
Je m’appelle Cynthia Blackned. J’étudie à l’école Luke Mettaweskum de Némaska. Je suis en secondaire cinq, secteur français. Il me fait vraiment plaisir de me présenter à vous. Je vais vous parler de quelque chose de très important, une experience personnelle. Il est difficile d’en parler parce que le sujet est tabou. C’est le “suicide.” C’est un mot qui fait peur, mais pas à moi. J’aime quand les gens partagent leurs sentiments douloureux avec les autres. C’est pourquoi je vais vous entretenir de la mort.
Ça s’est passé il y a quatre ans. J’avais une camarade, une fille très gentille. Elle était ma meilleure amie; j’aimais beaucoup cette copine. Elle a commencé à avoir des problèmes comme moi, comme nous tous avons à l’adolescence. Ses difficultés devaient être énormes car un jour elle s’est suicidée.
Elle m’avait déjà parlé de son intention. Elle disait qu’un jour elle se tuerait, qu’elle n’était plus capable de faire face à ses problèmes, à la vie. Je comprenais ce qui se passait avec mon amie. Je l’ai encouragée à ne pas baisser les bras, à continuer d’essayer de trouver une solution, que la situation allait s’améliorer. Je savais que je ne pouvais pas l’aider parce que je n’étais pas formée et que son cas était sérieux. Un matin c’est arrivé. Elle a mis fin à ses jours. Quand j’ai su ce qui s’était passé, je ne pouvais pas accepter de ne plus jamais la revoir. Je voulais être encore avec elle. Beaucoup de gens se sentaient coupables pour des raisons diverses. Je ne me suis jamais blâmée, je savais que c’était la faute de personne.
J’avais 16 ans quand mon amie est morte. Je ne pouvais pas croire le fait qu’elle ne soit plus là. Je voulais la revoir passer du temps en sa compagnie. Je déprimais. Je m’ennouyais tellement d’elle que j’avais oublié mes autres amis. Je ne pouvais pas réaliser l’ampleur de ce qui s’était passé.
Je n’ai jamais demandé d’aide. Ma famille à toujours été là près de moi, pour me supporter, me soutenir dans cette triste épreuve. Ca m’a pris trois ans pour accepter. Je crois que le suicide n’est pas la solution miracle, celle qui règle tout. Dans les communautés cries les jeunes qui se suicident ont chacun leur raison, de ces raisons il n’y a pas beaucoup de connues.
La question est toujours pourquoi. On ne connâitra jamais la réponse. Pourquoi ont-ils abandonné l’espoir?
PS. Il y aura toujours quelqu’un dans votre communauté pour vous écouter, vous aider. N’ayez pas peur de consulter des professionels tel que les psychologues et les travailleurs sociaux. Ils sont là pour nous.
Ne perdez jamais d’espoir.
by Cindy Neeposh
Léducation est important. Oui, je maintiens que cela est vrai. Je m’appelle Cindy Neeposh et je suis une étudiante du cinquième secondaire de l’école Voyageur Mémorial à Mistissini.
Mon école n’est pas grand mais encore nous voyons des problèmes. Chaque jour à l’école, je vois des étudiants qui traînent dans les corridors. Je ne peux dire que ces étudiants sont stupide parce que je sais qu’il y a de l’intelligence dans leurs cerveaux mais c’est dommage qu’ils ne suivent pas les règlements.
Moi aussi, j’ai perdu mon temps de ne pas faire quesque j’ai été supposer de faire. J’ai échoué deux fois et je regrette de ne pas avoir écouter aux enseignants qui voulaient m’aider.
Partout dans le monde, il y a des jeunes qui ne sont pas intérressés à apprendre et ces personnes sont habituellement ceux qui consomment de l’alcool et qui prennent des drogues pour oublier leurs problèmes.
Aujourd’hui je n’ai aucune amie à l’école parce qu’ils ne veulent plus venir pour apprendre. Quel malheur! C’est difficile sans amies. Des fois je veux quitter l’école parce que je m’ennuie d’eux mais lâcher n’est pas un solution quand nous sommes tannés.
Je sais que ce n’est pas toujours facile la vie d’un jeune mais si on veut un bon travail plus tard, il faut se faire instruire.
Les bons étudiants? Oui, ils existent. Et il faut être fier d’eux. Ils affichent une bonne conduite même s’ils sont seuls à bien agir et il faut reconnaître que ça prend de la bravoure pour être poli et respectueux en classe.
Aussi, il faut se rendre compte que nos parents et nos professeurs ont contribués beaucoup pour nous aider et c’est à cause d’eux que je vais être un gradué bientôt.
Finalement, j’aimerais mentionnée que je suis une des élèves qui ont été maltraité durant les heures de l’école par les autres élèves et je comprend très déjà dit l’éducation est important.
The winter snow storm
In the fall of my 14th year, my father, mother, little baby brother and I lived in a canvas tent deep in the bush. That season there were not many moose and my father hadn’t been able to kill much for our winter food supply.
In late November my family traveled 30 kilometres to go visit my grandparents before the first winter snowfall. While we were there, my grandfather asked my father if we had enough food stocked up for the winter. My father replied that we had enough to survive to the early spring. Grandfather then told my dad that this winter would be long and cold, and that maybe we should consider staying with my uncle Jacob and his family at their cabin. My father said no, we would be able to survive the winter and not to worry about us. Even though my grandfather asked him
many times before we left for our camp, my independent father refused.
Two days later we left for our camp. I had a bad feeling that my father was making the wrong decision, but I wasn’t allowed to say anything against his word. When we got home, my mother checked our winter food, and told my father it had been raided by animals and almost half the meat was gone. My father assured her not to worry and that he would hunt again the next day.
That night the first winter snow fell and it was cold.The next day before my father left. He said to my mother that he would be back before evening. All day I waited for his return. When night fell I knew something was wrong. My mother told me not to worry. She said he probably made a big kill and it got too dark for him to walk home with the meat and he decided to camp out.
Later that night I heard a noise outside the tent and woke up my mother. Suddenly in climbed my father. He was full of blood and hurt really bad. He said he broke his leg and had to crawl home because he was loosing a lot of blood. Luckily he was only half a kilometre away. My mother fixed his wound and we fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning.
The next day my mother told me that my father was really hurt and wouldn’t be able to hunt and that we would have to make do with our food supply till he got better.
As winter slowly passed my father remained very weak. The weather got colder and the snow even deeper. Our food supply was quickly disappearing. My father was weak and had to eat a lot to keep up his strength against the cold and to heal well.
One night a blizzard hit; it snowed so hard and the wind blew raged against our tent, which began to rip, because the snow was so heavy. So my mother told me to go outside to push the snow off and to cover it with a piece of hide. After that I went in to sleep. It was very freezing cold and my feet were numb beneath the fur blankets.
It snowed for three days and three nights. It was so cold we had to use a lot of our firewood which was already low. We couldn’t even leave the tent because we would have been blinded by the storm and lost if we went too far. My mother was very worried my father woud get really sick because it was too cold and all the food was nearly gone.
Three days later the snow-storm died down to light flakes. My mother told me I had to go to my uncle Jacob’s camp 15 kilometres away to get help. I was afraid to go but she told me I was the only one who would be able to make it. Father was too sick and she had to stay with my little brother because he was still nursing, and even if she took him, it was too cold.
In the late morning she bundled me up and sent me on my way to my uncle Jacob’s. The snow was so deep that it almost covered our tent; I had to snowshoe all the way. I got to his cabin late that night, tired and exhausted. Another blizzard began and the night air was thick with frosty air. My uncle said it was too cold and the snow was too thick to leave and we would
have to wait.
After two days of snow and cold nights, my uncle and I left with his dog team to get my family. When we reached the camp the snow was so deep it covered the tent, which had collapsed. I stood there watching my uncle work hard as he cleared the snow away.
There I was standing by my uncle as I watched him pull the tent away only to reveal my family lying all together under the fur blankets with blue lips and a peaceful look, never to wake again. Pain filled my aching heart.
That winter of my 14th year when my family died, I lost all that ever mattered to me.
Getting a grip
by Albert Tomatuk
Maquatua Eeyou School, Wemindji
Once, there was a time when I was scared to death. But now I’ve overcome my fear. Two years ago, on October 30, 1996, in the afternoon, I was scheduled to be operated on for my first ingrown toenail. I was scheduled to be operated on a few days before, but I decided to wait when the surgeon asked me if I wanted to wait or have it done right away.
I spent my time preparing for it and believing I’d just do it. No further thoughts about it. So I went to the clinic with my “Just do it” mood and my parents. As I waited in the waiting room, time seemed to pass slowly. Minutes seemed like hours, but even so, I wished there was more time. In about 40 minutes, my time had come.
The display of the doctor laying out the tools didn’t help make me feel better. She said she was going to anesthetize my toe to keep it from hurting but even that would hurt a bit. I decided not to watch. Automatically, I removed my sock and the dressing, lay down and covered my eyes. In a few seconds I felt a slight pinch which I didn’t like feeling – not for a second. When
she pulled out the needle, my toe was frozen.
It took some time for it to freeze totally, so I took a peek at my freezing toe. Somehow, it looked worse in a reddish hue. When I closed my eyes again, I felt a metallic shear invade my toe and, strangely, I felt no pain. Suddenly, I felt peace, which got me wondering. Then I felt a hard tug at my toe. I knew what the doctor was doing, and I pulled too. When the two funny tugs were over, I patiently waited for the doctor to cover it with bandages. I sighed with relief, eager to rest at home. Then I asked the doctor how I would walk on Hallowe’en night. She just told me not to worry, which I did, but cut down on the length of the walk. To make up for it, my three brothers shared with me some of their candy.
My rest didn’t last long. I got another, less suspenseful, operation on my second ingrown toe-nail the year after; and I have now my third ingrown toe-nail, which I long to have an operation on.
By Catherine A. Cheezo (Jolly)
Sec. IV French, Nemaska
I chose to write about this subject because I feel strongly and concerned about it. I will talk about my personal experences and the consequences that came along with driving under the influence (DUI). I hope I can reach out to someone and people think twice about DUI.
Drinking and driving is an issue that everyone should talk about more often. It is a serious matter because many people, both youth annd adults, die each year due to drinking and driving. The consequences we face can be as serious as losing a loved one or even your own life. I personally lost a family member and friend to DUI.
In 1990, my uncle Norman was going to graduate from high school. Norman’s graduation was going to be a special day that my family had been waiting for. This was an extra special day for my grandmother because Norman would be the first of her children to graduate from high school.
Norman, however, would never get to see this day. Norman and his friends decided to celebrate their graduation early, by driving around and drinking. The driver lost control and the vehicle flipped over, injuring almost everybody. My uncle was the only person who did not survive.
I think it is sad that he died the night before his graduation. I remember my grandmother telling me that the last time she saw him, he had asked her to take in his shirt. So my grandmother did but what she did not know was that he would be wearing his shirt at his funeral rather than his graduation. At his funeral, Norman’s graduation cap was on top of his casket. If it had not been for DUI he would be wearing his cap and graduating like the other students.
Not too long ago I had another similar experience, except this time it was a friend. He lived an ordinary teenage life. He was a good athlete. He had a girlfriend I knew he loved dearly. It does not seem fair that he died so young. Again, a life was lost because of driving under the influence.
Everyone is affected by DUI including families of the ones who died and the injured people who will live with the memories of the experience for the rest of their lives.
DUI tragedies are painful experiences. Many people go through it or face it. When someone drinks, then gets behind the wheel of a car, no one is safe, even the passengers, including people on the streets.
So, please! When you want to go drinking, always have a designated driver or take a cab. If you know somebody is unfit to drive take their keys or let the police take care of them.
I hope my experiences with DUI will never happen to you.