This year I went back home to Mistissini for the holidays. My brother, Don, was the kind soul who picked up Neil, Lynn and myself for that long ride home from Montreal. I wasn’t that talkative, slept a lot and occasionally thought about various things.

I thought about the idea of the “white knight” and how it seemed a fleeting thing of the past. Yes, I thought that chivalry was dead.

Just look around you at the occupations that people could do to make a difference these days. They all seem tarnished to our jaded eyes. A politician is thought of as a crook more than a do-gooder. A policeman is seen as someone who could be crooked or looking out for just policemen. A journalist is seen as a sensationalist more than a reporter. An activist is a tree-hugger in the way of progress. And that is just a few areas where a person would go to be a “white knight”.

By a “white knight” I mean an occupation where you try to do something that benefits all without thought to your own well-being. I guess I was getting a little cynical in my thinking.

I was surprised when I was home to find that changing when I thought about it. First of all, my brother picked us up without thought to himself and the second thing was I was invited for a Christmas day supper by an old friend George Blacksmith and his family. Small things to some but when you are down south you miss the easy way that Crees do things for each other. The cynicism was being worn down.

One night I went out to enjoy some liquid refreshments with some friends. I had an enjoyable time but was warned about walking home

alone. Apparently some younger folk cause a little trouble for lonely travelers. A couple of guys, without me asking, gave me an escort to make sure I was safe. It opened my eyes.

The next day I was looking for a news story and thought I came across a good one. The Mistissini Wreath of Hope. The people doing it had raised over $34,000. It was impressive but when I talked to them they didn’t want recognition in the Nation or elsewhere. They were doing it for people and not themselves. There was a host of people who had helped to raise money.

I went to the New Years Party put on by the community. No drinking but a lot of prizes. Clifford Benac won the trip to Las Vegas; Beatrice Petawabino won the living room set. The funniest story told won James Jonah of Waskaganish a three star blanket. Stanley Gunner won a Polaris 340 skidoo.

You get the idea. It was non-drinking celebration that had rewards and I saw a lot of people who volunteered their time to make it happen.

At the end of it all I realized something. Yes, the concept of the pure untarnished white knight might be in jeopardy but people still had the desire and the means to affect life just as much as they did. I think that those of us in the south should head back home on a regular basis just to remind ourselves that while the Crees never had any white knights in name we definitely have a few in action.

So when you see a local politician or police officer walking around, go up and give them a hug. Chances are they are a white knight of sorts and shouldn’t be left out in the cold.