ARTICLES BY Xavier Kataquapit

Explosions in the sky

Explosions in the sky have always fascinated humankind. My Elders passed down a legend to me about lightning – Oh-mee-nee-s-koh – as originating from the west. We Cree on the James Bay coast live on flat tundra and mushkeg. We consider any rise in the land as a mountain. The stories ... read more ››

Homage to Stan Louttit

It was a very cold day and we were struggling along in our little red car through near-blizzard conditions on our way to Thunder Bay. My cousin Ron, my friend Mike and I were accustomed to dealing with slippery, remote roads like Highway 101 west of Timmins. As we drove, ... read more ››

Heavens above

I am dazzled by the starry night sky. I have always taken a great comfort in looking up at the stars. When I look up to the heavens and the greater universe I find a perspective of the world that has kept me grounded and aware of my place in ... read more ››

An old warrior has gone home

If the comings and goings of people can be compared to a pebble tossed into a lake and the resulting ripples that radiate infinitely, then I would say that the passing of John R. Bradley, a member of Six Nations, will bless many with a spirit of good nature and ... read more ››

Put the love and joy back into Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and already I see the sales push everywhere I go. I have never really enjoyed this time of the year because I realize that it is mostly about a huge push to market products to us – the consumer. That brings about a lot ... read more ››

The first snow

I am always thrilled by the season’s first snowfall. A few days ago I was pleasantly surprised to awake to see a soft fresh blanket of snow outside my window that covered the pines and forest floor. In my remote cottage near the great James Bay, winter comes early and ... read more ››

The bears are hungry

Recently, I came across a mother bear and her two cubs as they were crossing a highway in northern Quebec. It seemed like a good idea to get a better look at these beautiful creatures so I turned around and parked on the side of the road near where they ... read more ››

Trees: a life giving resource

I love wood or mistik. I must be part beaver or amisk because I am always wrapped up in projects where wood is the main ingredient. Trees, of course, are an enormous contributor to our life on this planet and my people have great respect for these tough and often towering ... read more ››

The honour of a name

First Nation people are very enthusiastic when it comes to names. We name children these days in meaningful ways to honour the land, animal life and even the heavens. For example, my brother Joe named one of his boys Orion. A creative name that my brother Anthony gave to his ... read more ››

Cellphones have changed my world

Cellphones are a big part of our lives these days. Although the technology is rather young it is probably true that most of us would be lost without our cellphones. I recall first-generation cellphones in the early 1990s. In remote Attawapiskat, we were so far removed from modern technology that ... read more ››

Offline and feeling fine

This summer, any spare time I get in between traveling and staying at my remote campsite is spent enjoying a good book. When I am in southern populated areas and connected to the Internet, it seems like work is always overwhelming. When not at work, my time is gobbled up ... read more ››

Annual Wabun Youth Gathering provides participants life skills to survive

The seventh annual Wabun Youth Gathering held at the Eco Centre Lodge in Elk Lake, Ontario, featured workshops dealing with the critical issues such as suicide prevention, family violence and bullying. Role-playing and skits based on traditional and cultural teachings were utilized to educate participants. Eighty Wabun youth attended ... read more ››

Investing in our future

If First Nations across this country are going to change for the better, it will be as a result of the efforts of our young people. They will become our leaders, our teachers, our bureaucrats, our medical people and our community builders. The attention, opportunities and education and training that ... read more ››

On top of the world

Everyone who has lost a father or mother understands what a terrible hole that makes in one’s life. It seemed that those people who were so much a part of our earliest years would always be around. In fact, in talking with friends recently it dawned on us that most ... read more ››

Democracy Is Fragile

I was in Istanbul, Turkey, this past winter and I had the pleasure to walk in Taksim Square. I was impressed with the city as compared to the major centres in Morocco and Egypt I have seen. The ancient city, once known as Constantinople in honour of the Roman Emperor ... read more ››

Putting up with mosquitoes

T he Sah-kah-mel or mosquitoes are really, really bad this year. I think I have used up every swear word I ever learned in Cree, English and even French complaining about these little insects. No matter what I do they manage to find me out on the land and even ... read more ››

On a wing and a prayer

On May 31, a terrible helicopter accident near the airport in Moosonee took the lives of four dedicated healthcare heroes for the Ontario James Bay First Nations. All First Nations are very grateful for the hard work and dedication of flight and paramedic crews that service remote Native communities all ... read more ››

All About Hair

I have been growing my hair now for the past 24 years. It all started for a very practical reason. I decided one day that I couldn’t take any more peer pressure concerning hairstyles and looks. It seemed easier and more comfortable to simply grow my hair long. I also owe ... read more ››

Everything will work out in the end

I have been watching some good movies lately. One titled “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was about a group of older English retirees who move to Jaipur, a city in India, to live in a hotel converted into a senior citizen’s home. A line from that movie – “Things will ... read more ››

On the trail of history

I find travelling liberating. When I first started to visit other countries I did so with a minimal knowledge of history. The more I travelled, I realized I wasn’t getting a good sense of where I was. It was wonderful to climb up to the Acropolis and view Athens from ... read more ››

“Midnight Shine” lights up the coast

Attawapiskat resident Adrian Sutherland, an old friend of mine, and his fellow members of the band Midnight Shine recently launched a new First Nation music production. James Bay musicians have produced a lot of great music over the past few decades and Midnight Shine is part of a new crop ... read more ››

Remembering my father

I can’t believe I am writing words dedicated to the passing of my dad, Marius Kataquapit (October 26, 1938 – March 13, 2013). His death from a heart attack has left a hole in my own heart that I know will never fully heal, though it will get better with ... read more ››

In the spirit of respect and fairness

There are many success stories across Canada when it comes to resource-development agreements and partnerships between First Nations, companies and government. Most non-Native people don’t realize this. Even in my home community of Attawapiskat, negotiations in general between my people and De Beers Canada has benefited many. The process is ... read more ››

Big drug pushers want you as a client

I have noticed so much advertising on television recently promoting drugs for depression. Often the drugs are pushed for just about anything approaching depression, anxiety, nervousness and all feelings related in some way. I find this very scary. For many people and in particular those of us who grew up in ... read more ››

Melodie’s first joke

  Melodie is only nine months old and she is already a comedian. My friends Serge and Lyne had their granddaughter, little Melodie, up to their chalet in the wilderness recently. I met the pretty little girl and her parents Jennifer and Mathieu a few weeks ago at the lakeside retreat. I ... read more ››

Too many die on our northern highways

Here we are again in the middle of winter. This year up north, I am hearing lots of reports of snow and freezing temperatures. Last week, the temperatures with wind chills were in the minus 40 to 50 range in many places across the country. However, all this started late ... read more ››