By the time you read this, you will notice that there aren’t very many occupied seats on the plane you are sitting on. That is simply due to one reason – yes, GOOSEBREAK!! You will also notice that there will hardly be anyone at the airport terminal, why? The same reason of course, GOOSEBREAK!! You may notice that everyone has some sort of white mask on their face, making them look like wrong-coloured raccoons, why? GOOSEBREAK!! If you hadn’t noticed these things by now, then indeed, you are a first-time traveller to Eeyou Istchee (formerly known as northern Quebec until it was corrected), so welcome!
I welcome you in the absence of the chiefs and councils, staff, and everyone else in all communities who happen to be outdoors, at a hunting blind near a large flock of decoys, at this very instant. You may also notice that the month of May is torn out of your appointment book, because May just doesn’t comply with official office rules and schedules.
If your plane happens to fly very low, advise the captain that during migration time for geese and other fowl, please climb quickly and descend at a sharp angle so that you will comply with the flight regulations that advise you that there are thousands of hunters underneath you with loaded guns and ready to shoot anything that flies. This may not be the official reason why planes shouldn’t fly low over annual migration routes, but hey, it’s good enough.
Another thing that will keep new travellers on their toes, is that it may just happen that due to the lack of other passengers, you may have the undivided attention of the lovely flight attendant, who may over-serve you non-allergenic sesame-seed treats and litres of cold drinks, or again, I may be wrong to assume this. Whatever, if it seems that you may be the only person walking around at your destination in some Cree community, with a little dust twirling around for good measure, that’s probably because you are the only one in town.
Magically, the numbers of local medical mysteries tend to disappear from local clinics, but are often replaced with burnt limbs from accidently touching a hot wood stove, or some missing finger or hacked limb from gathering and chopping firewood. Once in a while, a victim of an overdose of canned food cooked in the can over open flames will appear groaning, but soon after, with burnt limbs and missing fingers and plenty of gastro medications for that burning gut, they will disappear back into the wilderness, never to be seen again until the last goose is gone or when the Pepto runs out.
Today, the return from the camp usually means that your favourite hockey team made it to the finals, and nothing, not even flocks of geese, will keep you away from your large-screen TV. The tradition of hockey and hunting, even though they start with the same letter, are worlds apart and are at conflict with what is now a tug of war between two loves. The new-age hunter can keep track of the score using his smartphone, so now tradition and technology are firmly gripped in the marriage made in heaven for the avid goose hunter. May the best goose win, ahem, I mean, best team.
Now that you, the lonely passenger on this flight, will understand why you are so lonely today and you will learn, one year, that May is not a month to do business up North, unless you already work alone. Signing off from my blind, just on the fringe of cellphone range…