The Mayor of Rouyn-Noranda was present for the opening ceremonies along with the directors of thevarious communities. Also present were John Kitchen, chief of Waswanipi, Remi Trudel of Plaza Dupuis,Marc Buteault, president of the local winter games, John Pash, Pierre Jacques, Gerard Page, Michel Guay, Ahsley Iserhoff, Matthew Swallow, Edward Georgekish,Billy Atsynia, Maurice Kistabish, Pierre Grand-Maitre and many others.
John Kitchen addressed the crowd thanking Rouyn for its voluntary participation to the Cree Regional Tournament and also excusing the Grand Chief for not being able to be present. This was followed by a moving speech from Bertie Wapachee, president of the Cree Nation Youth Council, dedicating the games in honour of the late James A. Shecapio, who he called his former mentor. The mayor then addressed the crowd thanking the Crees for choosing Rouyn.
All over the town were banners welcoming the Crees along with posters with the same message showing in the windows of the majority of businesses. The town also provided free shuttle buses to the downtown area to and from the arena.
As for myself, not having a reservation made at a hotel and none whatsoever being available, I had to settle at a local shelter for the homeless called the House of the Rising Sun (Maison du Soleil Levant). I must admit it was more than one would have expected. A comfortable room along with good meals were provided at a more than reasonable daily rate of $6.
On Saturday evening, I attended a special concert at Les Promenades du Cuivre featuring Kenny Mianscum. As a matter of fact, the concert was being held at the site of an exhibition of Cree art called “Visions of a Nation,” including art works of over 15 artists and artisans such as Virginia Charlotte Dixon, Andrew Iserhoff, Mark MacDonald, Glenna Matoush, Kevin Mianscum, BertMoar, Natazia Mukash, Margaret Orr, Sheila Orr, Jossie Shecapio Blacksmith, Morley Stewart, Tim Whiskeychan and Harry Whiskeychan.
Kenny Mianscum performed some of his old material as well as some new ones for the enjoyment of everyone present. Beautiful songs recalling the days when he grew up away from his family with a non-Native family who he felt just wanted to see what an Indian looked like. Then he learned to appreciate his childhood along with his culture when he discovered how hard it was to live off the land. Another song featured Ouje-Bougoumou as the old meeting place, also an Ouje-Bougoumou Christmas carol and fi-
nally a song of Nokum, his grandma.
Overall, it was a beautiful event, exception made of the sad passing away on Sunday of Billy Atsynia who suffered a heart attack. Deapest sympathies to the family.
Question: How do you feel about the change of site for the holding of the tournament from Val d’Or toRouyn?
Stuart Gilpin (Eastmain): I had first of all a hard time finding the right arena since there areseveral ones in Rouyn. In Eastmain we are waiting for the completion of our new arena. Right now thekids play street hockey. I remember in my younger days walking a fair distance with my skates toreach a frozen pond.
Bertie Wapachee (Nemaska): I think overall there is an improvement when compared with Val d’Or,especially following the complaints on the part of Val d’Or of the alleged brawls that would havetaken place. The only minus as far as Rouyn is concerned would be the limited size of the ice rink.