A modern Cree who enjoys the city and the nature of things.

This article was submitted on March 23, 2018, and has not been published since today. To remain accurate and transparent of when the article was created, the information is left untouched and some information may not be valid.

By Nick Wapachee

Bill Namagoose, Executive Director, Cree Nation Government and Grand Council of the Crees, says that the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) is the first comprehensive agreement in Canada.

“It was the Cree who stretched that policy to include everything,” said Namagoose, “like hunting, fishing and trapping, environmental assessment and local government.”

Namagoose noted that the Cree and Inuit were given rights and title to the land by the Crown through the 1975 agreement. Some include control over education, health, justice, land regime and benefits for the signatories.

The treaty was a direct response to the hydroelectrical projects that threatened their way of life, which was hunting and gathering. The Cree and Inuit now have a territory in northern Quebec that covers 656,000 square kilometers. There are 11 Cree communities and 15 Inuit communities. good details

According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the federal government developed Comprehensive and Specific Claims Policies in 1973 to better address First Nations claims and rights.

The comprehensive policy came right after the 1972 Superior Court of Quebec decision on the James Bay Cree, which recognized their Aboriginal rights and title over the land.

The JBNQA is a modern-day treaty for the James Bay Cree and the Inuit of Quebec and the Inuit of Port Burwell. The treaty was signed in 1975 by the Government of Quebec, Hydro-Quebec and the Government of Canada. The JBNQA has 31 sections and 12 complementary agreements, which gives controlover basic human needs for the Cree and Inuit.

“They say it’s the most comprehensive by the federal government in that policy. Now, it’s very restrictive,” said Namagoose.

He said that other Aboriginal groups are not able to fully access this comprehensive policy like the James Bay Cree, and that policy was diminished to the exchange of land, where other Aboriginal groups would fall under a policy relationship over treaty relationship.

“The Crees were lucky,” Namagoose said, “we were the first ones in.”

Some Aboriginal groups in Quebec don’t have a treaty or a legal framework like the James Bay Cree. The modern-day agreement was later recognized as a treaty after the Constitution Act of 1982, which gave the Cree legal and political status in Quebec and Canada.

“Canada and Quebec don’t like the JBNQA,” Namagoose said, “they want us to live under a policy relationship, which would dictate how we live.”

Namagoose said the JBNQA currently gives the Cree control over their destiny, but they will have greater autonomy once their Cree Constitution passes in the Senate of Canada, which will have a force of law in the Cree Nation.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect treaty that just sits there and all of the sudden and grows out of it by just looking at it,” he said. “You have to breathe life into it.”

Which is what the Cree did for their nation after fighting to implement the services in the agreement for their people.

“[The Government of Canada] has been trying to hallow it out,” he said, “and asking us to sign off on it.”

He said if the Cree signed off on the agreement, it would terminate the treaty relationship immediately and replace it under a policy agreement, which is a mistake they want to avoid.

“They did that to the Crees in Manitoba,” he said, “they got them to sign away their treaty going into the implementation agreement. They don’t get the benefits anymore.

According to Namagoose, the Northern Flood Agreement of 1977 caused tensions among the five nations and their relationship with Manitoba Hydro.

He said their agreement was created via a Grand Council, and all the communities gathered and negotiated with Manitoba Hydro, which was similar to JBNQA.

After the negotiations and signing of the agreement, the Manitoba Cree said that they did not want their Grand Council anymore and dismantled it.

“They thought they could just go home and wait for the benefits to come,” Namagoose said. “There were no benefits.”

He said that a nation needs unity and a strong political status to be taken seriously in negotiations and avoid mishaps such as this one.

Other Aboriginal groups in Canada have numbered treaties, which are land stamps from Treaty 1 to Treaty 11 signed by the Monarch of Canada. These cover a fraction of monetary compensation from natural resources but will not recognize Aboriginal rights over land.

“They stole their land for $4,” Namagoose said. “There’s nothing in a treaty except for land exchange for a few dollars a year.”

He said that the Government of Canada is content when other First Nation groups say their treaties are sacred and cannot be touched.

“The government is happy just to pay them $4 a year,” he said, “there’s a big difference between the JBNQA and the numbered treaties.”

The James Bay Cree receive about $130 million since 1975, and that’s about $500 to $600 million in today’s dollars, according to Namagoose.

Two Cree beneficiaries of the JBNQA said that the services gave them an easier process to meet their needs.

Lena Bates, has needs which fall under Section 16 of JBNQA, which gives access to education in the community and out-of-nation.

“It has given me the opportunity to gain independence,” said Bates, who studies Indigenous wellness and addiction prevention at Canadore College in North Bay.

She said that some services are lacking; her children have a hard time accessing support for their learning disabilities, but she hopes that being in North Bay will give them a chance to attend post-secondary institutions.

“They’re more hopeful towards the future than they were in the community,” she said.

She said that some Cree parents will move down south to get more resources outside of the Cree Nation, like access to programs for learning disabilities.

“Our school systems need improvement,” she said.

Bates notices a difference between a Cree person and those from other Aboriginal groups, where access to services are not the same.

“We sacrificed a lot of land for what we have today,” she said, “but unfortunately, that’s why we’re able to live comfortably and have all the services.”

Juliette Bearskin has used section 14 of JBNQA, which gives Cree access to health and social services in their community, and a benefit to travel south to see a specialist if a service is not available in the community.

“I’m actually in Montreal right now,” she said. “I’m with Cree Patient Services for my son’s dental appointment.”

She said that she’s not disappointed that some services are not offered in her community.

“We’re relatively new at running our own resources, we’re only 35 years in,” she said. “Services in Montreal have been running their resources for about 100 years.”

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“This traditional governance was already here,” said Robbie Matthews, “and it was our elders who ran it themselves. This is the most ancient governance we have in our nation.”

Speaking by phone, Mathews, Chairperson of Nishiiyuu Council of Elders, says that it’s important that the Cree Nation Government implement traditional governance.

The council of elders consists about 9 members, who are a traditional governing body of the Cree Nation.

There are two different means of governing in the Cree Nation one set by the Indian Act of 1876, where Chief and Councillors are elected to govern their community, and a traditional governance system where elders are leaders who have traditional laws passed through oral traditions by their ancestors.

The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) of 1975 was the first modern treaty agreement between the Crown and the Cree since the numbered treaties.

More recently, the Cree Nation Government filed Bill C-70 with the Government of Canada, which was to have Cree Governance and the Cree Constitution as a force of law. The bill passed through royal assent on March 29.

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A sponsored bill passed through royal assent. (Parliament of Canada)

The modern treaty was set by the Cree to govern themselves on their traditional lands, and have control over the environment, education, community development, health, and justice.

Matthews said the traditional governance structure did not have a justice system where people are charged for their crimes. Instead, elders would help those who made a mistake and they found a way for them to be reintroduced in the community.

“Since the JBNQA of 1975, those systems started coming into our Cree Nation,” he said.

“We took JBNQA without really understanding it,” he said, “and not really taking what we already have in the future.”

He said that the Cree will not understand traditional governance if they don’t practice the Cree lifestyle, which includes living in the bush and having a land-based education.

The land-based education is an important part of Cree traditional lifestyle, where they learn to hunt, trap and fish, but also find spiritual awareness by being part of the land, according to Matthews.

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A photo of snowshoes used for trekking on snow. (Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute)

He said traditional governance existed before the signing of the agreement of 1975 when the elders led the people and were a key part of Cree society.

Matthews is a respected elder, who said he worries about the youth who are easily incarcerated for their crimes, since the new development of the justice buildings in 2012, all nine Cree communities have a court for a Quebec judge who is not Cree.

Those communities are Whapmagoostui, Chisasibi, Wemindji, Eastmain, Nemaska Waskaganish, Mistissini, Ouje-Bougoumou, and Waswanipi.

“We don’t protect our young people, why don’t our leaders say anything about it?” he said. “And why don’t they do something about it? Why is that? How did we allow our nation to go this far?”

He said that he does not like seeing a justice system that does not consult with elders to help a person who commits a crime.

“If we were to run our own affairs, the true Cree way,” said Matthews, “we would take them on the land as opposed to taking them out of our land.”

Matthews has strong faith in the Cree language, Cree culture and the Cree customary laws that used to govern the Cree people before the James Bay Project in 1971, which dammed rivers and flooded traditional territories.

Matthews said that he attended the four-year battle of court cases with the Gouvernement du Québec and Hydro-Québec ending in 1971 when the Cree won.

The legal wrangling forced a settlement, resulting in the JBNQA.

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Cree going to a Québec court to oppose the hydroelectrical project. (Grand Council of the Crees)

“We had elders in the court and our people were translating for them to the judges,” he said. “They were speaking in Cree in a white man’s court and we were able to fight strong by using our language.”

Lena Bates, a Cree cultural woman from Chisasibi, Que., said that traditional governance needs to come back into the current systems.

“Once the residential school system hit,” she said via video chat, “it broke Cree systems down to a patriarchal system and that’s not working for us.”

Bates said Cree elders were the governing body but since the signing of the JBNQA, it seems as if they were let go of their duties and not given a chance to be part of the new governing system and implementation of traditional governance.

She said that the elders’ minds will revert back to a traditional governance system when explained to complex issues to guide their community in the best direction.

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Bates, middle, with Cree women after traditional ceremony. (Lena Bates/Facebook)

“It was like any other government, but our well-being was put into consideration,” she said.

Bates said that decolonization is happening in Eeyou Istchee, where language, culture, and spirituality are revitalized.

The Eeyou Istchee covers about 450,000 square kilometres of Cree traditional territory governed by the Grand Council of the Crees in northern Quebec, near James Bay.

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Borders of Cree traditional territory. (Grand Council of the Crees)

“It’s maintaining that we’re still practicing our way of life,” she said. “We’re still implementing it in our homes, it’s ensuring that implementation continues.”

Violet Pachanos, a former deputy grand chief in 1998, Grand Council of the Crees, said that Indian Affairs used to decide who would be a leader in each community.

“The chief and council system was created by them,” she said in a phone interview. “That’s when the Grand Council of the Crees was formed.”

She said the signing of JBNQA replaced traditional governance with a westernized structure, but that the current Cree government still speaks for the people.

“When we talk about the Cree Constitution,” she said, “this is what we always wanted, to be independent and run our own affairs and decide how we want to live our lives in Eeyou Istchee.”

Pachanos said that it’s important to recognize that the Cree Nation was colonized and the responsibility to govern Eeyou Istchee was transferred to Cree Nation Government.

“Decolonization is our responsibility,” she said. “We need to make our people understand that this is our life we’re talking about here.”

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Traditional handmade moccasins. (Grand Council of the Crees)

Pachanos said people need to be cautious about the Cree Governance and Cree Constitution and make sure the Cree people understand this new governance structure.

“We still have the power,” she said, “We must be strong and continue to run our affairs, and keep our culture and language, those are the basics of life.”

By phone, Matthew Mukash, former grand chief, Grand Council of the Crees, said that colonization made an impact in Eeyou Istchee.

“One of the ways that contradict(s) the traditional governance of leadership is the Chief and Council system,” said Mukash.

He said Cree people had a reverence for their elders because of their long life but since the signing of the agreement elders were not a priority.

“Their experience was being on the land and living on the land,” he said, “that’s how that system worked when that system was changed, it was different.”

He said there is a life philosophy of the Crees, that can’t be changed and that is their identity.

“A birch will never tell a tamarack, ‘hey you’re not a tamarack because you don’t have the branches of a tamarack,’” he said. “It’s based on that philosophy of life, natural system of things.”

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Six Cree youth and one man marching to Parliament by foot in part of Idle No More movement. (Nishiyuu)

He said the Cree Constitution needs to acknowledge traditional governance existed and needs to be built on it, remembering and recognizing the knowledge of the elders.

“You can have a good system of governance as long as you have the Cree philosophy of life, as long as we acknowledge who we are.”

He said the Cree will need to recognize that they were a colonized nation and need to reflect on what they lost as individuals in order to move forward.

“If you want to understand our culture, you must first understand the untainted, which are the elders,” he said. “In order to decolonize, we have to strip the modern objects first and understand what was there before colonization.”

The elders consist of Cree men and women, who are over 60-years-old and have a deep-rooted land-based education. These elders want to implement traditional governance to the Cree governance system and bring balance to a diverse nation, according to elder Robbie Matthews.

“No. I can’t do it.”

Those words began to haunt me as I tried to explain others of my incapacity of doing any physical activity.

The utterance of my screams wanting to push the pain away, but the pain so eager to stay and cause more insanity to oneself.

“What have I done to be in this state?” I questioned.

I couldn’t bear any of it but still remained positive of the situation.

The -25 weather touching the skin and causing the body to tense up. As a result of this cold weather, the spasms continue to bring havoc of the adored.

“One, two, three,” I counted, but those spasms wouldn’t take notice of my trauma.

So I continued to scream.

All control was lost.

All hopes and dreams, paused.

Once the pain simmered down, I tried to make conversation to a man named Nick.

“I know how this feels my friend, I’ve been there,” he murmured, “tell me, where are you from?”

I couldn’t answer, I thought of answering something more clever to pretend that none of this was happening.

The spasms continue.

“I’m from Nemaska but I live in Toronto,” I said, while trying to contain my posture.

Every inch of bounce, every turn and speed was felt.

The slightest touch kept mocking me. As if the Grinch had stolen my Christmas.

I’m not even a Who.

“Can you turn around?” The nurse asked.

Slowly, but gently. Slowly, but gently.

There it is again. The pain knocking on my door.

Constantly at a rhythm that felt like a person grabbing you and then letting you go.

Nurse instructed ambulance to drive me home and lay me to bed.

“Here’s your medication,” he said.

The spasms have been at a low profile since leaving the house.

But on Christmas Eve, I remain positive and hoping that one day I will walk without fear of falling, without fear of anything.

This will be my Christmas morning.

Walking.

I can’t believe it myself. I’ve been in university for two years and it’s been a rollercoaster. There were days where it was hard and some days were ok. I’m sure someone who just graduated felt the same way. On the bright side, I’m half way done towards my degree.

There comes a point in life where you’re occupied with life and all you do is go on survival mode. You still got to work hard so you’re in between deciding where you want to put your time because you realize that some things are important for you.

Sometimes, I wish I was superhuman, that way I can do everything that I want to do without hesitation. There are a couple of things where I had to set aside for now. It’s not that I want to put them on hold but the circumstances are sometimes to great for someone to bear. Hence, why I want to be superhuman.

On the bright side, I was able to have time to do a lot of things, I went to Miami while I was in school. I was able to set a couple of dates where I can just chill in Miami. Can I just say that clubbing in Miami is a whoooooole different scene. More like me scene. People are modest but can be sexy if they wish to be. That’s my kind of clubbing. (I just want to laugh at this paragraph right here but let’s move on shall we? Let’s not stay in the past)

I was able to travel to Quebec for some work, this was all on the side and it was fun. I was a master of ceremonies for several events. I had a great time especially the new people I met during this travel. I have a bad habit of not taking pictures, I wish I could show you but for now I’ll show you in words, I flew from Toronto to Montreal, Ottawa and northern Quebec on a jet plane. I’m glad I was able to show you. Good times.

What I expect in my third year? I hope I get in to my fourth and graduate.

 

 

I know a couple of people who go through difficult times in their lives and don’t know their purpose. They try to make ends meet but it just doesn’t seem enough. At the end of the day, the question always arises, “Who am I?”

I can definitely relate to that statement. At least it resonates from a time where I didn’t know who I was as a person.

Your purpose in life should be defined by who are as a person.

I remember one time, I was at the lowest point of my life and it was quite annoying, to be honest. I knew that it would pass but I couldn’t really bear the feeling in that moment.

I was in high school, I really didn’t have much friends and I started to define myself of whom I’m associated with. I grew up believing that I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t really with the cool crowed and I couldn’t really be the cool kid.

We always seem to be on a journey, but our identity as a person is something that we all should take care of because it’s the strongest part of our belief system.

You are not defined of what you do but you are defined of what you believe in. This will hold true and will radiate your actions in everything you do.

If I believe that I am a good person, who is to say that I am not?

You are defined of what you believe about yourself.

Some of us believe in lies and believe that we are not enough, no matter what we do in our lives, it feels like it’s not enough.

The actions we do are a huge thing, sometimes that’s what we need. A little push. The push that will help us get to where we want to be for our happiness.

Have you every heard the saying, “Good things happen to those who wait.”

I think this is true, there is a time for everything, everything happens for a reason, you are where you are because you are moving towards the bigger picture, one way or another.

Sometimes, when waiting becomes too long, you just need to move forward, make that push for yourself and keep moving forward.

No one is life is going to push you. You are your own best motivator.

If I expected people to define me as a person and receive affirmation every time I do something, I’m not fully fulfilling myself as a person.

Affirmation is great and we definitely need them sometimes, but you are your own best believer.

Someone once said to me, “You are your own best friend.”

I totally agree with this, you need to be happy with yourself, you need to be having conversations with yourself, and assure yourself that you’re doing what makes you happy.

I don’t think it’s selfish to do something that makes you happy. You want something that will benefit your life. Essentially, you have a life. Live that life. Don’t live your life for others.

Your happiness is more important than what people think of you.

I don’t think you should limit yourself in the opinion of others.

The best things in life are free. Money can’t buy happiness. Money can’t buy time.

BUT

We also don’t want our bank account to define us.

Money is not the best motivation. If your goal is to be rich, then you will never be happy.

Money comes and goes. It will always be there.

Your purpose in life will be your money maker.

What is your purpose?

I like learning new things. I can take up a challenge and look through the accomplishments. I want to look at failures as lessons learned, I’ve stumbled a couple of times but as long as I’m learning.

2016 was interesting. I met a lot of new people. I enjoyed my time exploring the possibilities and adventures with random strangers. It took me out of my comfort zone, that’s for sure. I know there is a lot more coming this coming year.

Money always seems to be an issue for some young adults. It’s hard to manage and hustle at the same time. “I feel like I’m definitely in the lion’s den,” said Eric Bell, who is 20 something in his discussion of money issues.

Well then… Money is an issue. We learn to hustle in the city and work hard for our success. This is something that works but sometimes it’s harder for some. We should stick to what we plan and finish it. We don’t want to live in regret and live wondering what could have been if we pushed a little harder. If you still have a chance, do it. Try even harder.

I’m one of the excessive spenders who enjoys the luxury of living the lifestyle of a millionaire. I’m not there yet but I’ve been playing pretend for quite sometime but need to face my realities. At least for now.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, our debt will accumulate to the point where were paying it off until we retire. Is that the kind of life we want? That doesn’t sound interesting to me. So what are we going to do about it? Work harder and hustle harder.

Lessons? I know someone who’s named “Lessons,” because she can’t stop talking. Ok, back to the subject: Don’t spend more than what you need. If you are schedule to be outside Canada, be there but don’t stay any longer because you’ll end up spending more. Right Nick? Yes. You’re right. Follow

Relationships are so important. You need the continue building them. Nobody wants to be alone, so this is why we need to talk to people. A simple, “Hello,” will definitely create a huge impact in your life and to others.

Isolation will not do any good for you. It’s one of the reasons why people become depressed but some people like being alone. Which I think is fine but no one is ever alone. Just think about it, you have your family, friends, acquaintances and business partners. Everyone plays a huge part in your life and they charge you up every single time.

Isolation doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Maybe we like being alone and enjoying our company. That’s OK. It’s not a bad thing but there is always someone in your life that fulfills you and encourages you. My point is that relationships will always be there and we need them in our daily lives. If you have a good friend, make sure you keep them. If you have people tearing you down, you don’t have to be friends with them.

We’re our worst enemy and our worst critic, I’m sure there are things where we wish we did differently. I’m sure some of us went through something and we just can’t seem to forgive ourselves for doing that stupid thing. I know, it’s annoying, isn’t it?

You probably have a friend who did something to you and it’s easy for you to forgive them but when it comes to something you did that probably caused you shame or regret, for some reason, we can’t seem to forgive ourselves. Why???

Stop criticizing yourself. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy life. You are not meant to be perfect. Ugh it’s so hard to be perfect and it’s damn right exhausting. Anyway, we can never accomplish perfection, deary. I want to say that I – kind of – stopped saying mean things about myself.

Although, I do make fun of my weight gain, it shouldn’t matter to me. Why does that even matter? It doesn’t define who I am as a person. Why should it be such a huge thing in my life that I gained weight? So what? I should simply enjoy life and all the food that Toronto has to offer. That doesn’t mean I should live recklessly, I’m just saying.

I didn’t accomplish some goals this year. It’s so hard to maintain goals. It’s never easy, especially when you have excuses that leave you side-tracked. I think it’s best that we continue to work hard and learn from our mistakes, let those become lessons. I hate lessons but it’s part of life.

Where is 2017 going for me? Well, it definitely looks brighter. I’ve fought some battles and won some, I’ve been knocked me down but the only way is up, so I need to stand up and bring my game face.

2017, you’re mine.

 

Ps. I’m going to Miami next month. 

The event happened at The Cavern on 76 Church Street from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., with a cover of $10 and a special $10 flat-rate pitcher of Mill St Original Organic or Steam Whistle.

Nick Maclean Quartet was performing on Friday, Nov. 25 with Morgan Gardner on trumpet, Steven Falk on bass and Tyler Goertzen on drums.

Falk and Gardner were substituting that night, it’s usually Jesse Dietsche on bass and Brownman Ali on trumpet, so things were a little different for Maclean but not strange.

Nick Maclean and the Quartet performing at The Cavern. (Photo by Nicholas Wapachee)

The venue was at the basement of Hi-Toronto hostel, the setting was quite dark, gloomy and shaped like a red-bricked tunnel.

The drums were bouncing off the walls while the bass was slamming unpredictable beats and the trumpet flooding the corridors while the young adults echoed their chatter during the melodic arrangement.

No words were sung during the performance but the sound of instruments was being orchestrated by local jazz artists. There was an emphasis on solos for each instrument playing that night, each of the artists was given the space for creativity.

picture2Morgan Gardner substituting for Brownman Ali. (Photo by Nicholas Wapachee)

Drums were predictable and constantly on a beat. The piano was amplified in their rhythms, while flowing back and forth in the circle of fifths, and playing by ear.

The trumpet was kind of a crooner and progressed to a cry but the brassy sounds and the smooth textures had some people cheer in galore.

The bass was the drummers best friend, the bass followed each pulse and occasionally hitting the notes offbeat to compliment the songs.

Nick Maclean is the leader of the quartet who plays the piano.

picture3Nick Maclean on piano before their break. (Photo by Nicholas Wapachee)

When asked about the consumption of jazz music to consumers today, he said that jazz music is received well by fans, as exciting things are happening in electric jazz music today.

“There is much appeal in jazz music by younger people,” he said. “We have different artists influenced by pop music, which can translate to having younger people interested in jazz music.”

When asked about jazz music being integrated into different genres, and the direction of jazz music.

“There is no particular direction, but when we look at the 60’s, the genre splits off to different genres and people are still interested in urban electric jazz music,” he said.

picture4Steven Falk substituting for Jesse Dietsche. (Photo by Nicholas Wapachee)

He said that there are two different artists today, there are artists who just want to be famous for the sake of fame but there are people who want to create. He said that he is a creator of jazz music.

Streaming services, like Napster, Apple Music and Spotify have caused some artists to lose some profit from their creative work, especially piracy and illegal file-sharing. For Maclean, it’s not a problem.

“They help a lot in terms of exposure – there is a cost and a benefit – piracy is not an issue, I’m part of the people who are taking risks and there is so much opportunity work involved,” he said.

In a small world, we’re told that we will be the next generation who will carry out the work that was laid for us and that we will be the leaders of our people in the Cree Nation.

I never really understood what that meant or what that looked like because it was such as vague statement for me at a young age. It’s as if the language they were speaking had no relevance of the reality at the time.

Our leaders have always been keen to let the young people know that they are the future of our nation. Every meeting had a speech on the importance of education and to come back to our communities and serve our people. It’s non-binding for a Cree student to go back home but has the freedom to choose what they want to do with their careers.

From what I know, we were all given a purpose to take part of what is currently happening in Cree society and that is to have a higher education so that we can learn the ways of the westerners and protect our language and culture. I didn’t really understand how vital it is to preserve our Cree identity but it is.

One thing I don’t agree with what people want to do in our school system is that to get rid of our Cree language teachings in the beginning stages of our education. I think some people may argue that the school system failed our students but I’m not sure if I agree with that because we have Cree students who are really successful in their careers and their education right now.

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My only concern is that what happened with the parents who should’ve been part of the process with their children’s education success. There is a huge emphasis on parents participation in our school systems but it seems that there isn’t much participation on the parents end, at least for some. (Cree world)

A child can be successful in the Cree school system with the Cree language going up to grade 3. I want to share a little story on why I think this is true.

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I went to École Luke Mettaweskum School, from pre-k to grade 3, Cree language was taught as language of instruction. I loved speaking my language and learning at the same time. From grade 4, I had a choice to learn English or French as my language of instruction, I chose French because I thought that it was important for me to learn some French because I lived in Quebec and a lot of people outside Nemaska spoke French. It was kind of a win-win for me at a young age. Finally, I went up to grade 6 and I had to do an exam that will determine whether I can move forward to high school. I passed.

From Sec. 1 to 3, it was an interesting transition for me, I still spoke Cree but at the same time I was learning French and I spoke to my teachers in French and used it as much as possible. From Sec.4 to 5, work became harder and harder but I wanted to learn so I studied hard and asked my teachers for assistance because I had no idea what some French words meant and needed more explanation. I graduated in French high school with Honour stole, Valedictorian and Commissioners Award and Governors General Award.

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I’m not going to lie but it was hard. I had my mind set where I wanted to be successful in life and wanted my education out of the way so that I can move on to the next thing in my life. I worked for two years at a radio station as an assistant to the radio host. I always wanted to be a host.

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I went to Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue and finished a year. I went back home because the radio host position was open and I really wanted that job and I got it. I worked there for about 2 years and it was the greatest experienced of my life.

I moved to Toronto for about a year and a half. I did numerous things while living in the city. I was in a small group with a group of guys and we hung around a lot and became good friends and we got to know about each other.

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We were family. It was the greatest time of my life and we travelled a couple of places in the city doing things for others. Like volunteering for an organization to run workshops and do live performances. It was a great time. We even went to England and France. I loved it.

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I met a couple of people in Europe so I vowed that I would go a visit them. So I did. I lived in Europe for about 4 months in total. I went to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. I went hiking on a huge mountain in Austria,

I went to a program in Journalism at Ryerson University. Writing isn’t always easy because writing is so damn hard. In Toronto, this is where I grew up as an adult. This is where I realized the potential in myself. This is where I can be whatever I want to be and I would be happy with it. This is where I met my girlfriend and I’m so in love with her.

13926024_10154458198611096_3505680527303473372_o.jpg This is where I got a puppy. This is where I learned to be independent. This is where I went to my first movie audition. This is where I made a home. This is where I met people who believe in my dreams.

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I’m not sure how I’m going to end this but I’ll continue on another note next time. Until then, enjoy yourselves 🙂

I’m a radio host now!

James Bay Cree Communication Society gives me a new gig.

This has been a dream since I was a kid and now I’m finally working here.

I’m so excited to be working as a radio host with one of the biggest station networks in the Cree Nation.

You can listen to me here on-air from Monday to Friday at 3 pm. (Only this week)

Here are some of the points that I live by when working at a radio station:

Stay current

Always follow the news. Stay connected to what’s happening to the world right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s local news, throw in the national news and international news.

Don’t be afraid to understand some of the news platforms we have out there. Have the ability to learn the language with some of the topics. Say for an example: Politics.

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Practice makes perfect (kind of)

Focus on learning how to articulate some words. Be alive when you’re speaking on-air. Avoid having a monotone voice.

Another quick tip that’s really useful is to give yourself some time to practice before the actual show.

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Pretend like your interviewing someone just to give you an idea of where you want to take your topic. This doesn’t mean that it will go according to plan.

Be open to things that don’t go your way.

Be real

The most interesting thing that someone can do when they’re working at a radio station is having the ability to talk in simple form.

“Hey, I hope you’re enjoying your day, I’m your host…”

That simple line caught my attention when I heard someone say those words because they made me feel like I was part of the show.

How I speak to you in person is how I will speak to you on-air.

Music

The most important part of your show is the selection of your music.

Don’t jump from one genre to another.

I always pick songs that are most popular.

I usually download 10 new songs for each show of the week. That’s 50 songs in total.

At the end of the week, I download 25 new songs and add them to the playlists.

Then I keep the new songs coming in and the old songs coming out.

It’s all about the rotation.

Click the link to find the Top 100

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This doesn’t mean that I am not open to any other ideas but this is pretty basic and it works for me.

I’m excited to be part of this family and work with a team.