I once heard a lawyer mention off-hand that if there was a heap of Indians, the Cree would be on top of that heap. Now, why would anyone say something like that? The comment made me wonder if he was serious and I looked at him, very seriously, and asked why he said it?

At that time, we Cree were working on numerous agreements to get more cash flow into the now low-interest-return bank accounts. I wondered if that was a general rating that he came up with. If we were on top of the heap, who were we sitting on top of?

Looking back at that time, which was around the time when the Internet appeared, just around the era when you could become an overnight Internet billionaire by selling some smart domain name. Or you were a whiz kid who made a site that counted other people’s money for example, and then sold it to Bill Gates, who either attached it to one of his monster-selling programs or forgot about it. Yet, at some point in time, it would reappear as an app for the iPhone or iPad. In those days, Apple was a little company that had big dreams, just like the Cree.

However, the difference between Apple Inc. and Cree Inc. was that the entire staff of Apple outnumbered the population of the Cree. And the money that was made by Microsoft was around the same amount that Quebec could muster by producing large projects that could only fit in the backyards of the Cree, whereas Apple products would eventually fit into your shirt pocket.

Today, the Cree or any other First Nation with perhaps the reserves with oil patches, wineries and expensive ski resorts or golf clubs are exceptions. The ability to reach the top of the heap has become almost insurmountable, unless you have oodles of funds sitting around in various bonds and securities making interest.

Now that interest rates are extremely low, just check your bank accounts and see if you made any interest yet to confirm what I am saying. You will notice the money that sits there doesn’t make the cut anymore. In fact, keeping your money safely in a bank account just means that the banks can safely charge you for their services. Some even charge large amounts (comparatively speaking) just to access your own money.

One $13 transaction I made cost me an extra $5 in service charges, which added up to 18 bucks for a pack of cigarettes! Now, where am I going with this you might ask? We are sliding down that heap pretty fast, as everyone around is now making large deals with resource companies and foreign investors because if we don’t, someone else will do it instead. So, we are forced to remain at the top of the heap, just because of necessity.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we didn’t do this. Would we slip into a worse situation than we are now, or would we succeed without anyone’s help? Sometimes it scares me knowing that if we didn’t do anything about the world around us, then the world would eventually cover us up and flatten the heap until it looked like the rest of the country. No, I say, you can’t keep this heap out of the picture. One day, this heap will turn into a solid hill and then it just might become a mountain of opportunities. Then we would take others into our folds and teach them how to climb the heap and make mountains out of it.

When we become our own Everest, and scaling the heights of success for good reasons, and not just because it is there, but because for our own future, it will be necessary to learn how to be at the top of the heap and stay there. One may think that I advocate this type of language. But hey, if a lawyer can use this term about his own clients, then so can I repeat it until it becomes a standard saying? For our sake and our internal rating system, I say, why not.