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.

2000 Likes for First Nation Stories Facebook Page

Wahwā, WOW! I finally reached a coveted milestone of 2000 likes to my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/firstnationstories/

I appreciate the support of my many followers and visitors. It took almost a year to go from 1000 to 2000, lets make 3000 by the end of the year.

nīso kihci-mitāhatomitanaw – 2000

From the words of Cree Teacher, Simon Bird – kinanāskomitin = I thank you/I am thankful for you/I am grateful for you (#CreeSimonSays).

mīna kihtwām – until next time

cv

Isolation in the Trapline

I remember as a boy, we would be isolated for weeks. Living off the land: fish, ducks and various animals would provide what we needed. We needed supplies from town of course like flour, sugar, toiletries and lard. nimosom would get ready to go to La Ronge Robertson’s Trading post to go see Alec to trade his furs.

He used to ask me what I wanted and I would tell him: “bananas and coke.” He would bring me a one litre of Coca-Cola and a bunch of bananas, but I was the oldest of my siblings, I had to share what I had.

For me, going to the trapline in this dire time is no longer an option. I have not been to any trapline since I was a teenager and I am sure I would have trouble getting by without supplies and I have not shot a gun in years. I still remember how to snare rabbits and and how to fish. Hunting would be a difficult because I probably get lost or scare away the game.

Being isolated would be desirable in these times of the virus scare and I would feel assured of a better chance of survival until it blows over. However, if it were to continue on and on, supplies would become scarce and there would be less options for meals.

I have worked as a web developer for many years and I am in a place where I can work from home to make a living. Living in trapline would mean getting cut off from technology unless I invested on solar power and satellite equipment. Fuel and batteries would need to be purchased at a high cost and I would have to sacrifice much of my comforts to do so. I have a family of four to provide for but my wife is awesome with preparing meat. Our teamwork would be essential. My girls would be completely inept but they would have to learn fast.

Anyway, I am rambling to get some thoughts from my head. Please take care and try to stay safe.

 

cv

Staying with Teaching

I recently made the decision to stay with my teaching job at Sally Ross School. I submitted my letter of intent to continue working at my hometown of Hall Lake. It was a hard choice but I feel it is better for my family and myself.

I had some thoughts of going back to my old job as web developer because it was easier than what I had to go through on a day to day basis with my job as grade 5 and 6 teacher. I have met challenges that I thought were too much to handle. I felt inept and too inexperienced to deal with my students who I though deserved a better teacher. I still believe they do, but they are stuck with me until the end of the school year.

I have had much trouble with classroom management and discipline. I have much support and will try to get the understanding of the parents to try and do better. I hope there is some type of understanding worked out because I want all my students to do well.

As for this website, I will continue on because it is my pride and joy. Whenever I am going through a tough time, I know I can get some appreciation for the time and effort I put into this website from my many followers and visitors. It has got me through, time and again and I do not want to lose the support I have garnered from my visitors. I enjoy writing stories and providing a supplement to any Cree program through my efforts. I have enjoyed and used many resource people, especially Solomon Ratt, Simon Bird and Arden Ogg. There are many others of course but these have been my main sources because they are constantly online to support me (more than they know).

St. Patrick’s Day – okanātisokīsikām

The Cree word is a reference to the “Patron Saint of Ireland.” I got the translation from the Gift of Language and Culture website. It is not a holiday that is celebrated on our reserve, but it is acknowledged, and people enjoy the horror movie about an evil leprechaun.

I remember as a child, I would ask about the leprechaun and I would be told that he had a crock of gold at the end of a rainbow. I would sometimes imagine going on a quest to find the gold so I could be rich. Haha, thankfully, I never did go on such a quest, but the thought was fun.

Woodland Cree Yearly Calendarhttp://giftoflanguageandculture.ca/glcp/calenderfla.htm (will not work on mobile devices).

St. Patrick’s Lifehttp://www.saintpatricksdayparade.com/life_of_saint_patrick.htm

Image by LaShonda1980 from Pixabay

Call for Stories on Trapline Cabins

Artwork by Molly Ratt – Follow the link to see her Facebook page

This is a call for stories on trapline cabins. I want you to share stories of your time in a trapline cabin. All stories are welcome. It would be great to hear about your time in a trapline cabin. You can write about anything you want from how and when it was built, or maybe just the times your family traveled to the cabin during certain seasons. While I would like to publish all stories, there are a few guidelines I would like to inform you about.

  • I cannot offer remuneration or a prize, but I will publish shared stories as deemed appropriate.
  • I will give full credit and a link to your Facebook profile.
  • It needs to be between 150 to 1000 words. I can be flexible on this, in the case of several short stories, I will combine stories into one page on the website.
  • Appropriate language is encouraged
  • Happy stories are encouraged but sad stories will not be refused
  • Deadline is March 27, 2020, but I will add stories before that date over the weekends.
  • No real need to be formal, but I will make minor edits if needed. This is a story telling website, not an English class.
  • Please inbox me your stories and I will reply during evenings and weekends. I am a full-time teacher and I do not go on Facebook during the day. You can also email me the original document to cv2k@hotmail.com Please write subject as “trapline cabin”

Just a note that this is not a contest, it is more of a chance to share your story with us.

A big thank you to Tom Ballantyne for giving me the idea. I hope you decide to share your story with us at some point.

Months in Woodland Cree

I learned these terms during my schooling in the band schools of the LLRIB. They are a bit different from the southern dialects because the seasons move along differently down south. This is how it was explained to us by our Cree teacher, I believe it may have been Mary Cook (In Memorium, opens new window).

January – opāwāhcikanasīs

February – kisīpīsim

March – mikisiwipīsim

April – niskipīsim

May – athīkipīsim

June – opiniyāwīwipīsim

July – opaskowipīsim

August – ohpahowipīsim

September – nimitahamowipīsim

October – pimahamowipīsim

November – kaskatinowipīsim

December – thithikopīwipīsim

 

The meanings of the months, can be found in the sources below:

Cree Literacy Network – https://creeliteracy.org/2019/09/05/2020-calendar-solomon-ratt-y-and-th-dialects/

Gift of Language and Culture website – http://giftoflanguageandculture.ca/glcp/calenderfla.htm

 

Making a Cabin in the Trapline – My early memories

As a very young boy, I remember when nimosōm – my grandfather, started getting his cabin built across the lake from the Pisew Lake landing. Before that, we had been staying in canvas tents up until freeze-up. That next spring, nimosōm and okosisa – his sons, started preparing the area where the new cabin would be built.

I pretty much stayed out of the way because I was too small to help with anything. I wanted to get in on the action that was happening, but I just listened and observed from time to time. I remember the bark being peeled off the logs and the ground getting leveled. nipāpā – my father, is a carpenter so he was very busy with everything that needed to be done. nohkomisak – my uncles, Simon and Abel, were also helping with the cabin and I saw much hauling of logs, boards and sand.

The sand was a curious thing for me at the time because I wondered what the heck they would be using that for. I noticed later that they were putting it on the roof to absorb rainfall. Right away, I thought that maybe the sand would be too heavy and fall through, but the logs they used for the roof were strong enough. It was all very fascinating to me at the time. To see this kind of cooperation was great. They had their little conflicts, but they seemed to resolve them adequately, I did cower a bit when their voices were raised but it was all good.

When it was all done, it looked beautiful. It was bigger than the other old cabins that were nearby. In the winter, it had a canvas tent porch, so that the cabin would have a type of insulation from the bitter cold.

I remember one winter, nohkomis – my uncle Abel, told nisikos – my aunt Elsie, to make a pair of boxing gloves out of cloth and foam material. nohkomis Abel, challenged me to a friendly boxing match. I put up mu dukes and we battled it out and had fun. Unfortunately, my uncle got a bit too zealous and started punching me a little too much. His last punch knocked me on my butt and I banged the side of my head on a small stove. There was no fire at the time, but I was bawling my head off. nohkomis and nisikos, quickly got me some snacks they had stashed away, they needed to keep me quiet and not to tell on them. Great times.

My sisters and nitawīmāw, my cousin, Flora, would still walk back and forth from the cabin to the tent site to visit family. nohkomisak stayed in the tents during the fall and we had to walk along the shore to get there. kotak nisikos, my other aunt, Alice, may have noticed we were getting bored because after a while, she told us that we were going to learn how to set traps for a sākwīsiw – a mink.

I had watched traps being set by my uncles and grandfather and I had set rabbit snares, but I had never set a trap before. I remember feeling unsure about myself because I did not want to get my hand trapped on a leg-hold trap. I reluctantly went along as my sister and cousin seemed more enthusiastic, although they might have been faking it because Alice was a disciplinarian, and we did not want to set her off. Of course, now I realize that she has a kind heart and to this day, always does well at the fish derbies we have in our community. By the way, we never did catch the mink because we soon had to go back to La Ronge. I never asked my aunt Alice if she caught the mink.

I asked nipāpā about the cabin last night, and he said it had burned down. There was another cabin built but it had rotted away somehow. A third cabin was built with the help of my old pal Adam Joe and my cousin Richard. My grandfather loved staying at the trapline, and he went until he couldn’t go there anymore.

nimosōm – my grandfather

okosisa – his/her sons

nipāpā – my father

nisikos – my aunt

nohkomis – my uncle

kotak – other, as in “my other” or “the other”

nitawīmāw – my female cousin (father’s brother’s daughter)

sākwīsiw – a mink

 

Time Off From First Nation Stories Website

I have decided to take some time off from this wonderful website until February break from February 17-21, 2020.  At which time, I can hopefully post stories and Cree blogs for my followers.

I need to spend more time with my teaching career, which has brought me much stress but has also brought me a sense of accomplishment.  I made a career change pretty late in my life and I have felt the painful transition all too well.

I want to do the best for my students and want them to know that I will do the best I can for them through my actions (if I tell them point blank, they would ask me for something, lol). I need to be a better role model and show them that dreams can come true and that they can accomplish anything they put their minds and efforts to. To many of my followers, this is a gimme, but to me, it is still new. I have forgotten how tough it is, to be a kid at that age.

I have spent too much time on this website. I always have it on the back of my mind. I think of stories or blogs I could write and ways of complimenting them with Cree audio and text. It is a good concept and I am glad it has garnered much followers and visitors. When I see a post by Simon Bird or Solomon Ratt, I get inspired to do something similar, to encourage our Cree language. It may still happen, but I don’t always have to act on it. Props to them and many others, for promoting our great language.

I need to give my teaching career my all. I need to stop worrying about going back to my quiet office at the band office and give this great opportunity the best I can. There are many supports at the school to take advantage of and for that, I am grateful. The support I have received is often overlooked by my wandering mind. I want to give my students the best I can offer. I have until June to do so. If I cannot accomplish what I want to do, then I can look elsewhere for employment. The students deserve better than that.

 

cv

 

 

Year End 2019

The year started off with the choice of staying a Web Developer with LLRIB or apply for a teaching job in Hall Lake, my old home reserve. At that point in my life, I had worked as a web developer for nearly 14 years. I decided to give teaching a try after discussing it with my family.

It was nice to be back home in Hall Lake. I knew most of the people from 14 years before, but I did not know who the children were. I worked for Recreation in the 1990s and many of the kids I worked with, had their own kids. I could see many similarities in the children and could sometimes easily guess who their parents or grandparents were.

The familiar faces were all adults now, and I now had to learn new names, something I was never good at. I am glad to say, that I am getting close to fully reacquainting with all the people from my hometown.

This website would continue to be updated because it is my personal website and I finance and maintain it on my dime and time. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and displaying my tech skills. It has been a big year for the website in terms of visitor and viewer growth. Financially, not so much. The last time I received any remuneration, was June 2019: One-hundred dollars. I stand to make another $100 this month. It is all from the ads you see on the website. So, the website, while it brings pleasure and expression of my knowledge and abilities, it is not making me rich.

While the website would continue, the stability of my employment at the time, was about to be very disrupted. I would go from sitting quietly in my office, pressing buttons and collaborating with leaders and directors, to managing a classroom full of 10- and 11-year-old’s, who ask me: “When is it lunch?”

It has been very challenging. Much of my time is spent trying to manage my classroom, but it has gotten easier. The students have warmed up to me and seem to enjoy my short lectures. It is such a joy when a student has a “EUREKA!” moment. I will be explaining and explaining and suddenly, their eyes will light up when they understand. They go quickly go back to their desk all eager to complete their work. It can be awesome. Not once, has a computer or website given me such a feeling of accomplishment.

I will continue teaching until the end of June 2020, at Sally Ross School, and then, who knows. I will see how it goes.

It is winter – īpipohk

I did this video for my Facebook page last year. It came with no translation, but I decided to include it this year. The original comments show varying interpretations and they sound better than mine.

aski māna mithonākwan kā pipohk
kōna māna mithonākoso
īthikohk māna īwāpiskāk aski
āskō māna macikīsikāw
kā tōsāmi mispok, īyati āthimahk pimohtīhowin
nanisīhkāc kāpahkisihk kōna, kwayask mithonākoso
ikwānoma kwayask kitāti māmispok
nākatāpimisok nitōtīmak

The earth looks nice when it is winter
The snow looks beautiful
The earth is so white
Sometimes, the weather is bad
When it snows too much, travel is difficult
When the snow falls gently, it is very beautiful
Now it is going to start snowing more

Take care of yourselves, my friends