Category: Under the Northern Sky

The Colours Of Change

These days I am surrounded by nature’s art. Mother Earth is changing the landscape with incredible colours that she takes from her pallet. The fall colour extravaganza is in full swing up north and vivid yellow, orange, red and green fill the forests. Even though we northerners feel a little ... read more ››

We need a renaissance in education

It is back to school for everyone now that summer has wrapped up. Heading back to the classroom was always something I looked forward to when I was a boy back up north in Attawapiskat. The school was more or less a refuge for me where I could find some ... read more ››

Work ethic has to be learned at young age

  This week a friend of mine stepped on a nail and had to get a tetanus shot. It reminded me of the many times I injured myself as a child growing up back home in Attawapiskat. I was always around the family construction business and by the time I was ... read more ››

Creatures of habitat

I am accustomed to living in towns and cities surrounded by people. However, when I am out on the land for long periods of time everything changes. There is no longer access to all those luxuries that we take for granted like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, theatres, television, radio, ... read more ››

More storms on the horizon

I noticed in the news recently that there seems to be a move away from denying climate change or global warming. It looks like people are finally waking up to the fact that we humans are contributing to a situation that is causing change in the climate and weather patterns. ... read more ››

Dancing on the edge

I am sitting here watching the rain sprinkling down from a grey sky onto the lake. It is a quiet rain. There is very little wind and that adds to the laziness of my morning. I am nestled in the midst of a vast wilderness and kilometres upon kilometres of pine ... read more ››

Surviving a forest fire

  It is summer. We are all enjoying those lovely, long, warm summer days. The sun is up early and falls in the sky late at night. Summer birds are back, the chorus of peeping frogs is constant, insects buzz and bite and the fragrance of all kinds of flowers, weeds ... read more ››

The dream catcher

I had a dream the other night. I was a little boy again. There I was, on the land back up on the James Bay coast. I could see the clear water of the Attawapiskat River below and the deep blue sky above with the burning yellow sun as white ... read more ››

Happy New (and not the last) Year

  We are all looking forward to a new year but many are fearful of the coming of 2012. Some believe the coming year will mark the end of an historic period. Many think that this year will be a spiritually changing one and far too many believe it will herald ... read more ››

Hunger strikes have a powerful history

Over the years, leaders from northern First Nation communities like Attawapiskat have fought hard for many of the basic services and programs that most people in Canada take for granted. However, I can understand my peoples’ frustration when it feels like progress is being reversed and we are losing what ... read more ››

We can make things better

  As Canadians we have a good reputation worldwide for giving. In the case of my home community of Attawapiskat and the recent news about the housing crisis, the Canadian Red Cross stepped in to help out. I would like to take this opportunity to thank that organization and all those ... read more ››

It’s time to start working together

  Christmas is right around the corner. It is supposed to be a time of peace, love and good will to each other. Instead, I feel more or less heartbroken.   I thought that when Canada found out about my people in Attawapiskat and their housing crisis, they would respond in a positive ... read more ››

Housing crisis needs solutions

  In reading the news headlines today I noticed that one of the main stories was about my home community of Attawapiskat on the James Bay coast. The news item highlighted the fact that there is a housing crisis happening on the James Bay coast in communities like Attawapiskat, Fort Albany ... read more ››

Time to get back in shape

  We all know how people seem to be addicted to fast food. I recall those special times when my parents or family members would return from the south to our home in Attawapiskat with Kentucky Fried Chicken by the buckets. We would all gather around those buckets of pure heavenly ... read more ››

Burning “Ring of Fire”

My friends have always been amazed at the fact that I know the words to so many old country tunes. Well, I was brought up listening day and night to my parents’ collection of country-music records and for better or worse they are etched in my memory banks forever. One ... read more ››

Finding shelter from the storm

I sat down at the cottage recently and looked outside a picture window that faced the lake. It was a cool afternoon and I watched the light fade under layers of dreary clouds that hung lazily overhead. I sat comfortable in my warm chair as I sipped on a cup ... read more ››

Through the eyes of a child

Recently I had to deal with some mice at the camp. I like all animals, great and small. Birds brighten up my day. However, I am not crazy about flying and agitating insects like mosquitoes, black flies and hornets. My little friends, Jack and Brynn Vokes, let me know that ... read more ››

Forest fires threaten First Nations communities

I am loving this hot, dry summer we are having, but it comes with a price. The problem is that many forest fires have been burning throughout Ontario and in particular Northern Ontario. This is a great time of the year for all of us to enjoy the outdoors but ... read more ››

The woods are alive with the sound of…?

I woke up one morning in a half-dazed fog. I was in the woods at a cottage in the wilderness where normally the forest was quiet and still. There was no wind this night to rustle the leaves in a nearby stand of poplar trees or to blow through the ... read more ››

Farm fresh food heading north

I was happy to read recently that a new project has been launched in northern Ontario that will help First Nation people have access to healthier foods and vegetables. Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), Quality Market and True North Community Co-operative (TNCC) announced a partnership to bring fresh-food options to First ... read more ››

Another time in a faraway place called Nawashi.

I am happy for my mom. She got a great gift this hunting season with a helicopter trip back to her traditional family home on the shores of the Nawashi River. This place is special to my mom and I understand that. Susan, my nigawi  (mother in Cree), was born and ... read more ››

Following the trail of my great-grandfather

I recently travelled to the United Kingdom on a pilgrimage to find my great-grandfather’s grave. The good news is that I found the white-stone marker bearing his name John Chookomolin although they had misspelled it Jakomolin. It was good to kneel at the place where he was buried and to ... read more ››

Put fish back on the table

I have been eating a lot of fish lately. It is always good to eat the various types of fish the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes have to offer. However, over the years as I have travelled throughout the Far East, the Americas and Europe, I realize how fortunate we ... read more ››

Shape up or ship out

Everywhere I travel these days, I feel the effects of global warming. Weather patterns are changing, ice caps are melting, glaciers are receding and it is all becoming very obvious. I first started hearing about a change in climate from some of the Elders from up the James Bay coast ... read more ››

The world is getting crazy

My Kookum or Grandmother, Louise Paulmartin, often told me when I was young that “the world was getting crazy”. She reserved that comment mainly for when some news from the southern non-Native world would reach us about a calamity or crisis like a war, a terrible flood or if she ... read more ››

Grant me the serenity

It has been very cold here in the Timmins area since the beginning of January. I prefer the clean, fresh nature of winter but I have to admit that this 30 below weather is not much fun anymore. I am not on the land much these days and I am ... read more ››