Category: Under the Northern Sky

Don't be fooled by hate

Recently, I have heard a lot of comments on the fact that we are welcoming many refugees from Syria. This topic is very popular in coffee shops and any other place where people meet throughout Canada. Sadly, I hear a lot of mean comments and even hatred from people and ... read more ››

Driving the deadly winter roads

It is again the time we have to deal with snow, icy roads, freezing rain and sometimes blizzards. I love the north and enjoy all that winter offers but I also realize just how deadly the roads and highways can be this time of the year. More and more people I ... read more ››

One night in Paris

My night in Paris started with my friend and I getting a bit lost on Boulevard Henri IV while looking for the Bastille. From our pause on the corner we were looking at a map in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Parisians making their way along the ... read more ››

What the federal election means for First Nations

by Xavier Kataquapit Now that he is in power, the big question is what a majority Liberal government headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will really mean for First Nations across the country. The good news is that out of 18 Indigenous candidates the Liberals put forth, eight won seats. The ... read more ››

Another day in paradise

Some people might call me a loner. A few of my friends may see me as a bit of a recluse. It is not that I don’t like being around people, it is just that I love peace and quiet. I grew up in the James Bay Cree culture and raised ... read more ››

The Cree connection on Mars

You might have seen news pieces recently about a small bit of land on Mars that has been named for Winnipeg. NASA is currently exploring Mars with the Curiosity rover and for some reason the officials in control of this project decided that the small piece of land that is ... read more ››

Playing games

I come from a video-game generation. I was 12 when I played my first home video-game console. My family was not able to afford such luxuries as video games when we were very young. It wasn’t until the early 1990s when our family could afford extras. I can remember spending hours ... read more ››

Of blueberries and bears

Everyone thought that the blueberry season was going to be terrible in northern Ontario and northern Quebec this past summer. A frost and cold weather in June seemed to have stifled the blueberry crop. In July, it was evident to everyone that it was not going to be a great ... read more ››

We need to be more responsible in harvesting wildlife

We somehow still believe that there is an abundance of wildlife on this planet. The facts show us that this is not the case. Still, all of us, including my people right across this country, tend to think that somehow it is our inherent right to harvest huge amounts of ... read more ››

Wabun Youth Gathering inspires hope

Life for a young person today is a challenge. They live in such a fast-paced world where much is expected of them. Back when I was a boy in my home community of Attawapiskat, I was outside most of the time playing with my friends or out on the land ... read more ››

Profit at what cost?

Many people may have heard of a major train derailment that occurred March 7 near Gogama, Ontario. There was earlier one February 14, also near Gogama. What many don’t realize is just how traumatic this kind of disaster was for people living in the small town and in Mattagami First ... read more ››

Ten Thousand Steps

It is well known that First Nation people all across this country suffer from diabetes and heart disease. The Cree of James Bay started to develop these health problems decades ago when so-called progress came to our remote First Nations. Some of us ended up with jobs working for the ... read more ››

Taking food for granted

When is the last time you remember being hungry – and I mean really hungry – with nothing or very little to eat? I can recall often being hungry when I was young back home in Attawapiskat. We had a large family, food was costly because it had to be ... read more ››

A Christmas wish for you

Here we are heading into the New Year of 2015 and ready to celebrate another Christmas. When I was younger and still drinking, the holidays were an excuse to party. Although I, and everyone around me, had good intentions to try and have a real family Christmas and then an ... read more ››

Better days ahead

Resource developers and First Nations are finding common ground when it comes to the creation of projects on traditional Native lands. The main ingredient to successful partnerships that benefit everybody seems to be respect. I have watched First Nations all across Canada interact with resource developers and often there are problems. ... read more ››

The thing that flies

I recall my early infatuation with “kah-mee-nah-mee-kok”, literally translated from Cree as “the thing that flies” or in modern English as “airplanes”. Every day after school in the autumn my friends and I ran from our dusty gravel playground to the airport at the north end of the community. We ... read more ››

Lest We Forget

Lest we forget – that is the phrase that reminds us of the horrors of war and those who gave their lives in conflicts around the world. We all know that November 11 is set aside to take time to remember those who have perished in war on our behalf. A ... read more ››

For the children of Attawapiskat

Congratulations to everyone in Attawapiskat who fought so hard over many years to lobby for the construction of a new public school. This year the children started their school session in a brand-new, contamination-free school. I was saddened to see the demolition of the once-proud J.R. Nakogee School and to witness ... read more ››

Meditation on a tractor

Lately, I’ve been thinking of buying a tractor. I can’t afford a new one so I’m looking for an older, used farm tractor. The older I get the more I think I am turning into my dad. Marius was always searching for an interesting machine he could add to his ... read more ››

Getting ready for winter

The forest surrounding the lake near my cottage is dense with pine, birch and poplar trees. There are many kinds of brush, blueberry plants, mushrooms and plentiful wildlife. There’s lots of activity on the banks of the lake in September. I am also getting ready for the cold weather. I’m building ... read more ››

The magic bus ride

I took a road trip recently to southern Quebec to meet my mom in Trois-Rivières. The journey was a long, over two days from my remote cottage, but it was enjoyable to travel the rural roads of La Belle Province. My mom Susan, sister Jackie and many of the Elders ... read more ››

The legacy of laughter

I awoke today to the sad news that Robin Williams had passed away. His story reminded me of one my favourite operas, one of the most well known in modern culture. I’m sure most everyone has heard it at least once in a movie, on the radio or in a TV ... read more ››

Wabun Youth Gathering: A template for success

Suicide is a major problem in First Nations right across the country. As a First Nation person, I have been touched by suicide in the loss of friends from my community in Attawapiskat. Too many wonderful young Native people who are full of potential are taking their lives for no ... read more ››

A matter of survival

My experience with religion has been interesting to say the least. In Attawapiskat, the Jesuits established a church as part of the French wave of colonists during the early days of the fur trade. The English also dispatched Anglican missionaries to First Nation territories on the Hudson and James Bay ... read more ››

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 ››