All posts by Charlie Venne

My name is Charlie and I'v had stories in my head since I was a child and this website is an outlet for those stories.

sākāstīw – Sunrise

It has been awhile since I have seen a sunrise.  I took this picture from my doorstep because it was too late to get down to the lake to take a beautiful  landscape type picture. Hall Lake has some great sunrise picture opportunities.

mithokīsikanisik – You all have a nice day

 

 

kita kimowan nipahaci kōhkominakīsīs – it will rain if you kill a spider

When I was a nāpīsis – a boy, nōhkom – my grandmother, used to tell me not to kills spiders or it would rain. Because of my wild imagination and the fact that it was nōhkom who told me, I was very careful about not killing spiders.

 

nōhkom – my grandmother

nāpīsis – boy

 

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

Image by Robert Balog from Pixabay

Poll Results – Cree First or English First

The results of the Facebook poll show that a little more than three quarters are in favour of using Cree first in all my bi-lingual posts and pages. I think I will try to keep Cree first for translations in poetry or narratives (kāwitha macīthihta – Do not have bad thoughts) and dialogue in my stories that have Cree translations available (The Eagle Flies into the Past – mikisiw kayās isi pimithāw).

I wish I could do entire translations in Cree for my stories, however, that would entail a great deal of my time, time I do not have as a teacher.

I appreciate the response from all my followers. I hope you all continue to check out the website. I hope to update at least once a week.

ninanāskimon kā ayimihtāyin nitācathohkīwina. Thank you for reading my stories.

All comments are welcome.

Lack of Hope on the Reserve

I was watching the documentary: “Bobby Kennedy for President,” and in it, Bobby declared that he would run for President of the United States. One statement caught my attention: “… young Indians to commit suicide on their reservations because they lacked all hope,” it is a statement that hits close to home for many of our First Nations people.

Lacking all hope is such a terrible feeling. I have felt the wrath of racism in my own hometown of La Ronge and in the town of Prince Albert during the time of the LaChance shooting in 1991. The feeling of lost hope and shame resonates with your whole being. I was fortunate to be able to go back to my community of Hall Lake.

Lack of hope on the reserve is an unfortunate side-effect of alcohol, drugs and gambling. There are other forms of substance abuse prevalent among the youth, such as huffing, or “sniffing,” as it is more commonly known on our reserves up here in Northern Saskatchewan.

We all have our vices as human beings. There are very few people that I know of that are content with little or no way of “loosening up,” as it were. I drank alcohol many times and spend all of my money to get to the last drop of booze I could get. I have pawned off laptops, TVs and guitars just to keep the party going. I have lost things to the pawn shop because I could not afford to take them out when they were due. Sometimes I would pay a fee to keep them there for a couple of weeks more but ultimately, the stuff would end up owned by the pawnshop.

The lack of hope I felt was brought on by depression from the workplace and family matters, these are situations I would rather not reveal at this time. The drinking was a way to cloud reality so I would not have to worry about any responsibilities, including my children. However, money runs out, sleep is needed, and bills need to be paid and feed the family. The hangovers I suffered through were terrible, I would attempt to clean up the apartment and feed my hungry daughter at the same time. I shook and I sweated away the weekend, sometimes I would call in “sick” to avoid going to work smelling like alcohol.

Alcohol use was normalized when I was growing up. It was okay to bring in cases of beer and many friends with which to enjoy the (so called) good times. It was not good for me. I dreaded the late nights when I would have no choice but to stay up and listen to arguing and fighting. Sometimes, I would be woken up to do something for my father or be introduced to one of his friends from work. They would be nice enough and greet me nicely, but I do not think it’s a good way to be introduced.

Many people that do not drink or drink socially are very quick to judge people who drink too much. They do not know what people are going through and why they resort to this type of “loosening up.” I still drink from time to time but not nearly as much and away from my children, so I am far from perfect. I throw in a few bucks in the one arm bandit and I smoke cigarettes when I am having a drink (I quit smoking five times this year). Obviously, I still have work to do with myself, I am trying.

As a teacher now, I am taking a close look at myself, a more critical look at myself. If students see me walking around drunk, it will look very bad to them. To my colleagues, it will appear very unprofessional. It is better to quit drinking outright and be done with it. I do not want any lack of hope, amplified from being hungover and wondering what I had done. I have a whole school year to plan for and I need to work on what I will be teaching tomorrow.

Take care,

Charlie Venne – Grade 5/6 teacher at Sally Ross School

All photographs were taken by me, using various cameras and phones over the years.

News articles:

Robert Kennedy’s Indian Commitment (June 1, 2018) https://tribalcollegejournal.org/robert-kennedys-indian-commitment/

80 Days That Changed America (April 23, 2018) https://www.thenation.com/article/80-days-that-changed-america/

LaChance shooting remembered in Prince Albert (Jan 28, 2011) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/lachance-shooting-remembered-in-prince-albert-1.1089247

Sally Ross School – http://llribedu.ca/sally-ross-school/

Old Tree behind my Parents House

My parents house

Around 1982, when my parents moved us from La Ronge to Hall Lake, our house and area was a new place to explore for this 8-year-old at the time. There were many trees near and around the house and nipāpā – my father spend days cutting trees down and digging out the tree stumps. I was too small to help with that, but I did haul what scraps I could. I wish I had pictures I could show.

Actual picture of tree before it fell, tāpwī.

There was a mistik – tree, that caught my eye earlier on because it stood out among the mītosak – popular trees behind the house, it was an ithināhtik – black spruce. I immediately noticed the tree had long branches at the bottom and made a natural umbrella, my sisters and I ran to this tree to get away from the rain many times.

Actual picture of tree before it fell, tāpwī.

During the winter of the year, nipāpā had trapped and skinned either a nikik – otter or ocīk – fisher. My memory is a bit fuzzy but anyway, he had thrown the skeleton of the animal on the branches of the ithināhtik, maybe about 3 metres high. Over the years, the bones got higher and higher until I completely forgot about them. When I did remember many years later, I could not make it out. Not a trace. I wondered if it was dragged away by ravens and crows or by the squirrel that made the tree it’s home.

Actual tree after it fell, tāpwī

In late July of this year, 2019, the tree finally fell after a storm. Right away I went to the tree when I found out and looked for the bones that were thrown onto the branches. I did not find the skeleton. I was kind of disappointed but considering its been 37 years, there was little chance it would still be there. I just thought it would be a good story to tell my children as I held up the skeleton, but that is not to be. Like the readers of this blog, it can only be imagined.

 

nipāpā – my father (this is how we say it in our “colonized” reserves).

mistik – tree

mītos – popular tree

ithināhtik – black spruce

nikik – otter

ocīk – fisher

 

She’s sweet but a psycho – ī-sīwisit māka wītha ī-kīskwīt

This is the literal meaning but being sweet would mean s/he is kind (ī-kisīwātisit).

ī-kisīwātisit -s/he is kind

This song has run through my mind time and time again so I thought I would make a Cree meme out of it.

Images from Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/ 

kāwitha macīthihta – Do not have bad thoughts

Cree audio added for the meme.

A little poem I wrote back in March 2019 (if you can call it a poem) using a picture I took in May 2019 at Montreal River in La Ronge, SK.

I am sure there are variations to my interpretation, please feel free to express your opinions. Please share 🙂 ➡

My granddaughter chases a rabbit

My wife and I, took our granddaughter, Akiela for a ride and we saw a rabbit on the side of a road and she decides to chase it. Shaky video because I was totally unprepared for it.

My granddaughter chases a rabbit

nōsisim nawaswātīw wāposwa

wāpos – rabbit

Source: itwêwasinahikana – http://sapir.artsrn.ualberta.ca/itwewina/detail/crk/eng/nawasw%C3%A2t%C3%AAw.html?no_compounds=true&lemma_match=true 

Rubber Boot at the Window – kinokātīwaskisin wāsīnamānihk

Whenever there was a big thunderstorm, my late grandmother would put a rubber boot at the window. Thunderbirds do not like rubber boots and it drives them away, it worked every time.

awīyak kāstāt kinokātīwaskisin wāsīnamānihk, pithīsowak kita-pōni kitowak

When someone puts a rubber boot at the window, the Thunderbirds will stop calling

Thunderbird
Not an actual Thunderbird.