ARTICLES BY Xavier Kataquapit

A burning issue

In the past few years, I have been able to spend more time at the cottage where I get to enjoy the use of a wood-burning stove. Starting a fire, gathering logs and splitting wood is a very familiar activity for me. I was raised around wood stoves in my ... read more ››

An autumn gift

I spent some time at the cottage this past week to enjoy the outdoors, the changing landscape of fall colours, cooler temperatures and the absence of biting insects. The autumn is a great time to be outside in the fresh sweet air. This was my time for sitting by a ... read more ››

Who’s That Knocking On My Roof?

Have you ever looked at the animals in the forest and noticed how their personalities sometimes seem similar to people you know? Some of the connections are simple to make. The busy beaver would be associated with people who have a big work ethic and are always on the go. ... read more ››

All creatures great and small

There is nothing like spending a hot summer day near the water’s edge. I enjoy as much time as I can swimming but there are many responsibilities that keep me from cooling off in a crystal clean northern lake. Recently I took on the job of fixing an old lake-side ... read more ››

Reconnecting with the land

I grew up surrounded by the wilderness on the James Bay coast. Our isolated community of Attawapiskat sits in the middle of a large area of mushkeg, swamp and tundra. We never had far to go if we wanted to see untouched forests or tundra. Our parents may have enjoyed ... read more ››

Taking the poison out of the land

In January 1999, I wrote a column describing a snowmobile trip my dad, my brothers and I took north of Attawapiskat in the middle of February. On that adventure I experienced the coldest winter temperatures of my life. Our destination was Lakitusaki River, or as it is known in English, ... read more ››

Seeking gold: Wabun First Nations sign an axploration agraamsnt with Augjaji Qold

Three Wabun Tribal Council First Nations and Augen Gold Corporation signed an exploration agreement on July 9. The signing took place at the Wabun Tribal Council office complex in Timmins, Ontario. Mattagami, Brunswick House and Flying Post First Nations, through the signing of this agreement with Augen Gold, have the benefit ... read more ››

Field Of Dreams

It is a hot mid-summer day and we are all gathered in the big open field behind the school. My friends and I are hanging onto the chain-link fence watching another game of adults playing a round of baseball in the far corner of the field away from the school. It ... read more ››

A Connection To The Land From Birth

I met someone new this week and it was a very special introduction. For the first time, I set my eyes on my new nephew Landyn Charlie Kataquapit. He is the brand-new baby of my brother Joseph Kataquapit and his wife Lynda. Little Landyn was born on June 14 at ... read more ››

Ye olde bicycle shop

If you have ever owned a bicycle, chances are you have visited a local bicycle shop when you needed something fixed or replaced. These days your visit to a bike shop may take you to a modern storefront where you may find a sales, repair and accessory buffet for bikers. However, ... read more ››

Delivering a message

I recall a story my mom Susan often told me about a time when my brother Joe and I were children. It was convenient for mom to keep us together as we pretty much kept each other busy most of the time. She often used us as her messengers to ... read more ››

Waking up with the gulls

I have been waking up every morning for the past two weeks to the sound of gulls in my backyard. Every day I hear the same squawking, jeering and yelping cries of a group of gulls that have made the growing pool of water in the backyard their home. In the ... read more ››

Lesson of the frozen geese

It is 1930 on the James Bay coast and spring has arrived on the frozen tundra. After weeks of warm weather, the Niska, the Cree word for geese, have finally arrived after a long hard winter. The Cree of the James Bay coast are leading their nomadic and self-sufficient lifestyle ... read more ››

To save a life

Survival was a difficult reality of life for my people, the James Bay Cree, over the centuries. Even after the arrival of Europeans to the James Bay coast, people still relied on skill, traditional knowledge and a great deal of luck in order to survive in the wilderness. There were ... read more ››

Working together: A proactive approach leads to cooperation in mining development

A proactive approach by Northgate Minerals Corporation has resulted in a cooperative relationship with the Matachewan First Nation of Ontario concerning the development of the Young Davidson mine. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony was held in Matachewan First Nation on Tuesday March 25 and it included signatories from ... read more ››

The dragonflies are coming

I took a short walk this early spring afternoon. Even though I was surrounded by huge snow-banks, I had the feeling that spring was in the air. The sun was shining bright but a cool breeze reminded me that winter was not leaving without a fight. On the ground, the ... read more ››

One baby at a time

Adam Had’em is known as the shortest poem ever written in the English language. It was written in 1904 by American poet Strickland Gillilan. Oddly enough it was given the title “Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes”. This little bit of writing was once a small series of words but ... read more ››

The future looks bright

During the day, whenever I can, I take the time to open the blinds and let the sun shine in while I sit at the table to have my breakfast or lunch. The sunlight lifts my spirits after weathering sunless days and gloomy storms. It also keeps me warm without ... read more ››

The oasis at the hockey rink

It is another cold winter evening in Attawapiskat and my friends and I are gathered outside passing the time. I am 10 years old and my buddies and I are considering our options on another quiet, unexciting evening in our community. Actually, there really is only one choice and that’s ... read more ››

Extreme challenges are a serious business

I shovelled the driveway on a recent afternoon just to get some exercise. It was one of those bright, sunny January days with a temperature at a bone-chilling minus-30 degrees Celcius. The dry, cold air made it difficult to work. The harder I worked, the more air I had to ... read more ››

We all share Planet Earth

Television is our window into the greater world. It is a view of our planet that we may never get to see in person during our lifetime, showing us places we may have read about or heard of from other people. I remember sitting at home in Attawapiskat in the evenings ... read more ››

I found my toboggan

I visited a local hardware store the other day in search of something that I consider to be an important part of my culture, a traditional wooden toboggan with five or six wooden slats laid in a row, strapped together with cross braces and two short chains to tie down ... read more ››

Getting to know you

Recently, I visited one of my favourite breakfast restaurants in Timmins. I ordered my usual serving of eggs, sausage, home fries and toast along with a bottomless cup of coffee. I am still trying to watch my diet and this heavy morning meal is an indulgence that I take in ... read more ››

Stewing over my memories

Winter seems to have arrived early this year. The big freeze hasn’t hit us yet but there sure seems to be a lot more snow than last year. I recently spent some time finishing up some pre-winter chores that I was not able to complete before the snow fell. Any type ... read more ››

It’s a small world after all

Television is an old friend. I was born in Attawapiskat on the James Bay coast at the same time as the first television signals were being beamed into our small isolated community during the 1970s. So TV has been part of my life as long I can remember. We had ... read more ››

It all smells fishy to me

Fish has always played a part in the traditional diet of my people on the James Bay coast. When times were tough and the hunting and trapping was not bringing in enough food for the family, fish provided a way to survive those lean periods. While I was growing up, having ... read more ››