While it is inconvenient for many of us, luckily for all of social media fiends, there is Twitter. I do not have an official Twitter account for this website, I may consider starting one up later today.
If you have time on your hands, why not read a story or two from this website. I know I have said it before but I have stories in the works. I will be entering the CBC Story contest too before the end of the month. I will keep you posted on that.
As a boy living in Hall Lake or La Ronge, my family would pack up to go to the trapline in October. We would gather what we need and usually take a taxi to Pisew Lake. At the time, I would kind of dreaded going because I loved watching TV. I would miss the shows I watched, but I would especially miss wrestling and kung fu movies. I loved those type of shows.
My family would have to make the trip by canoe across the lake at Pisew Lake. It was amazing having to travel by canoe. It would take two canoes or one big canoe to take us and our supplies to make the trip. I remember we were waiting at the landing for a time before we saw my uncles travelling toward us from across the lake.
While we waited, I would look at the wonderous scenery of autumn. The leaves blowing away on the grassy/gravel road toward the landing would sometimes conjure up small dust devils, I would call them “little tornadoes”.
The trees would slowly lose their summertime companions as they would be in different shades of orange and yellow. My sisters and I would run around catching them in our hands.
The rustling of leaves had forever ingrained in my mind, the memories of those few times. Today, I can stand for many moments and listen to the rustling of brightly coloured leaves and stare at them in the vibrant sunlight. The nostalgia of it all fills my mind and heart with good feelings and the yearning to bring back the old days. I am happy I got to enjoy the wonderful experience as a child, at a place where there was very little in the way of crowds, buildings and traffic.
As we travelled on the lake with the canoes, the beautiful sight of the trees at the shores seemed almost magical. At the time, I felt that God had done a great job in creating the earth just for us to enjoy. Such perfection and grace. I would feel totally relaxed and was oblivious to those around me.
There was little talking during the trip. I appreciated it because sounds from the trickling water from the canoe gliding over the rippling water was delightful. The wind on the leaves was gentle music to me ears. The sight of the trees from the far shore was mesmerizing because it would seem like the trees nearest you were moving faster than the trees further into the forest.
The sun seemed to follow us in the sky and on the lake as it reflected beautifully; following us and taking care of us as it kept us warm during a usually chilly autumn. I did not miss watching TV at those times.
We did not have a camera back then, but if we did, I would have certainly taken as many pictures as I could. The memories are thankfully vivid and there is not always a need to take pictures. All you need, is to stand there in a similar setting and take it all in. I am thankful for all the memories.
Here I am waiting in the truck while my family is shopping at Walmart. I had my fun at the NORTHERN LIGHTS Casino last night and now I am done with the little city.
I remember living here many years ago for high school. I ended up quitting because I had to deal with racist classmates and it became toxic enough that I couldn not handle it anymore. The teachers were great but at the time I felt too ashamed to talk about it.
I moved back to my hometown of Hall Lake and completed my grade 10 there a year later. I was grateful to all the support I received from the school staff.
I did not stay long enough to get inspired to write about living in a city. All my best memories and influences were from being in the trapline as a boy. I wish I knew enough to write about it but I do not have the inspiration to do so.
Maybe one of these days, I will write about it but for now,I will stick with what I know.
I am painstaking writing this blog on my cellphone. I hope the girls are having fun and sticking to their mother.
So I finally completed my story on September 12, 2021. I did some minor edits throughout the week, mostly grammar and some spelling errors. It seems to be much more work to edit the draft than it is to write because research needs to be done.
I am enjoying the editing because then I can see how I could have written better and I am getting my daughter to read it. She is a bit of a book worm. I do not know if she completed it, I will go ask her (okay she did not have the recent copy, I just sent it to her).
Anyway, I have a long way to go before I complete the story. I am thinking self publishing through Amazon. The technicalities seem doable enough, that is my strong suit. It will be good practice for future projects. The graphic work will be challenging because I am not an artist.
Thankfully my son likes to dabble a bit with paint, so I can ask him for some (free) graphics that I can manipulate to my liking. These graphic tasks are not very fun, so it will be challenging to complete a cover. I am actually overwhelmed thinking about it so I better stop writing about it.
Now I know you as a reader is finding mistakes in this blog, that is because I do not have an editor, I just write how I feel. I am hoping to continue with the updates about my current journey so I can continue to practice writing and getting better. If I was not so busy during the week, I would get more writing done, however, I do not want to write when I am feeling tired and unmotivated.
I was hoping this particular blog would motivate me but it is having the opposite effect. I am glad I am not working on my story right now, but I will be this weekend. It takes awhile to get started, but once I get going, I end staying at all hours of the night. (which goes well with my insomnia).
You were ripped away violently
From a world you loved so
Your descendants shot back strongly
Their powers, they now know
Early changes in law, were not in your favour
What made you strong, was heritage
They cut your hair for the savior
What they did was sacrilege
All in the name of the Queen
We remember you, two-hundred and fifteen
Good morning from La Ronge, to all my followers. I have been working on a story for about three years. I am only at 6000 words. The pandemic had wiped out much of my creativity, however, I am finally feeling it again.
My story was at 5000 words this past March, but I ended up with the dreaded writer’s block. Last night I managed to add another 1000 words. I am not sure at this point what number I will am aiming for. At the beginning, my goal was 5000, but that is not enough to tell the story that has been in my head for the last 25 years or so.
I had hand-written the story probably in my early twenties. I was proud of it and wished at the time, that I could get illustrations for it. Unfortunately, I lost the original hand-written story. I had planned to type the original story with a typewriter or computer, if I could get my hands on one.
I hoped to publish it someday, but I did not have any connections to any writers. I had access to Readers Digest magazines and they had writing contests all the time. I think they may accepted hand-written submissions I cannot be sure. The story was about 22 pages of my messy writing. I am currently at 20 pages with size 12 font in Times New Roman, double-spaced.
I had always wanted to publish a book or even an anthology of short-stories. I imagined the book or books would be extremely successful. I dreamed that it would be the only job I would ever need to support myself. Things happen in life that do not always go the way you want. I did not want to let go of the dream.
The early 2000s were a little rough, but I did manage to write several stories. I had access to a computer because of an Information Technology program I applied for. I learned to build basic websites with HTML and I loved it. I even built a faux website that I called “Charlie’s Written Works.”
The website presented my stories, poems and songs that I had written. In 2009, First Nation Stories was launched to a very tepid response., but I was proud.
I am still pursuing my dream to have a book published. I have so many stories in my head that need to be “let out,” so to speak. I have mentioned this on a Facebook status of a great writer and all he said was “write.” Straight to point, but very powerful. This happened two-weeks ago and I am finally following his advice. I will “write,” what is in my head.
I have spent too much time worrying about the format and the organization of the story’s chapters. I wish I could have just written the story on and on. Of course, it’s not too late to do so. I just have to be more diligent.
I was going though my archived documents and came across a blog that I never published. It is a rundown of the first two days of the teacher program they used to offer in La Ronge, SK. The program has since been unfortunately discontinued, however, a new program has thankfully opened up for those aspiring to become teachers.
It was 2014, I was 39 years old and I was coming off a position of web designer of the Gift of Language and Culture website. I and one other employee were the only ones left after a height of about 12-13 great members of the team. It was a disheartening experience and I was regulated to IT. Nothing wrong with being an IT staff member, but that is not what I signed up for.
I decided to apply for the program and was accepted, however, I was not accepted for funding right away. Less than two weeks before the program started, there was enough applicants that opted out of funding, that they got to me on the list. I was ecstatic. I was going back to school and had no idea what to expect. I knew I could do better with myself and I was officially taking the plunge and see what I could do.
So anyway, here is the contains of the document I found, unedited:
Aug 22, 2014
I just completed my second day at the Northern Teacher Education Program.
My first day, yesterday, was uneventful as everybody was just getting settled to their classes and the Profs were introducing the course content to their respective students. There was some confusion in my part of the morning because there was no class schedule or list in a mailbox that wasn’t even set up for me. I survived the day.
Today was better and the class was a little more vibrant. We did a reading and discussed the expectations of us by the professor on how to interpret characters, situations and objects of the texts we will be reading. The students were great and the ones who are very young are very mature, this is not to say the older ones are immature but just so you know.
There will be quite the workload on the students and this has been the only class so far. I can only imagine the whole workload of all the classes I am taking. There are many novels to be read and anthologies of short works and poetry, and that’s just for one class.
The staff is easy to get along with and they are all helpful. Many of the students seemed familiar with the place and there were some who looked unsure and nervous, I am sure they will be happy to have a staff so willing to assist them with anything.
I know it all sounds like a commercial so far but there are some negatives for me. One, I still live at Lakeview Apartments, so that means my classes are across town as opposed to across the street like my former workplace was. Second, I have to pack a lunch unless I want to spend money every day at a restaurant. Third, I will have MUCH homework to do, whereas I had didn’t have anything to take home for work when I actually worked.
I figure I can take a cab in the morning and walk home after school. So I guess it’s not too bad, I’ve been in worse situations before.
That was a very great experience for me. The staff was awesome and the instructors were great. I miss the comradery of the students. I met many friends that have gone on to teach all over the province and spread their brand of pedagogy to many students.
I did teach for one year, and it was very difficult for me because I had trouble discipling children. The workload for a teacher is enormous and now even more so with the pandemic.
After teaching I took a job as an online resource teacher, it was more my speed. I was able to use my skills and training to assist teachers who were abruptly introduced to online teaching methods that were completely new to them.
I am currently back at my bands central office and my new title is Digital Communications Officer. It is the perfect job for me and I am happy to be working with digital content such as, video, audio and online work. Social media and websites are still an important part of what I do and I am always learning. I am happy to assist staff whenever I can help.
Good afternoon to all my followers and visitors. I have been very busy at my place of employment. There are many very exciting initiatives taking place regarding our language and culture. I am happy to say we are making much progress. The Cree language and culture department has many new things happening. I will disclose details when it is time.
We are currently in talks with leadership about building a website about residential schools in our communities. There are interviews in the works and we are hoping for a good response. A colleague of mine is adamant about getting this information out and I totally respect his opinion and his drive to reach out to our communities.
We recently had a group of people doing ground penetrating radar (GPR) to our residential school cemetery. We are now awaiting for the results. Many people are on both sides of the argument that we need to find out this information and the other side says we should leave the graves in peace.
I believe that the graves should be scanned so we can get some closure about the past community members that are buried there. I do not mean any disrespect to people who believe we should leave the past alone.
This GPR is happening all over the country. I hope our neighbors down south do the same thing. The first count of 215 in BC was a wake up call for our country. We need to keep up the aggressiveness of our resolve to find out the truth. There has been too many stories suppressed about our past. We are never going to forget.
There has been a recent surge of fires near my hometown of La Ronge, SK. Looking at the map I shared on Facebook the other day looks scary. Many of the main concerns of those who shared my post, were of the cabins they have out in their traplines and of mushroom land. Traditional land is at risk and people are not taking it lightly. Thankfully, there has been no reports yet of any cabins burning down, that I have seen.
This current forest fire situation reminds of the evacuation of La Ronge and area, back in 2015. Fires were popping up all around our tri-communities of La Ronge, Air Ronge and Lac La Ronge Indian Reserves. First, they implemented a voluntary evacuation and later a mandatory evac. I was at home at the time when the RCMP came to my apartment and told us to get up and leave with what we had on. There was no time to grab anything like clothes or any other personal belongings. It was traumatic, but I was able to keep a sound mind.
I had written a post about the ordeal back in 2015, however, through revamping and revising my website, the article got lost in the shuffle. I was able to find the original article from July 2015, in my archives recently and here is the link if you want to read it (many old news links in the article). – https://firstnationstories.com/?page_id=4119
I had saved a fire map of June 9, 2015, and now we can compare the map from that time to the map I am sharing today, July 10, 2021.
If you look at the map from 2021, you will notice there are more fires, however, if you look at the map from 2015, the fires are much closer to La Ronge and my old home reserve of Morin Lake. Notice the fire is closer to Sikachu than Hall Lake (Morin Lake Reserve 217, is in the two blocks of pink to the west of La Ronge). A cousin of mine lost her house in the fire in Sikachu. She ended up getting a new house in Hall Lake, which is the same reserve, but a different community (just trying to be clear).
While we are at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would devastate many family’s to be evacuated and live in close quarters as we did during the evacuation of 2015. We must all salute the firefighters for putting their lives on the line to put the fires out. They are the real heroes that should to be looked up to.
While we have been separated to an extent because of the pandemic, an evacuation would make it more difficult to recover from the traumatic events that we have already experienced.
Here in our home community of La Ronge, SK, the news of 215 children found buried at former B.C. residential school was shocking. Many of us were saddened, others were outraged that the governments did not listen before. They, survivours, say they knew atrocities had happened, but nothing was done. I too, used to hear about possible missing children at residential schools growing up. I could not understand at the time what they meant. I do not remember any headlines about it on mainstream media, maybe it was not important enough for journalists to research the topic.
Now, there is not only news media, but social media, and web media as well. It gives us a better playing field. I would not say “level-playing” field because I do not see it as the case. I have read comments where Indigenous posts and pages had been removed and outright banned from social media.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission “has identified the names of, or information about, more than 4,100 children who died of disease or accident while attending a residential school” (trc.ca). Murray Sinclair “now believed the number was ‘well beyond 10,000’” (nytimes.com). This is a disturbing trend for Indigenous people in both Canada and United States. Many of the mainstream population do not even know about the residential schools because it has not been taught extensively, or at all, in many schools across both countries.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to set aside money for more searches (dailyhive.com). I anticipate my hometown of La Ronge to get funding for the searches. A local Indigenous Elder has stated that he believes that there are other bodies, other then the marked graves, at an old graveyard which was near a residential school in downtown La Ronge (1907 – 1947) (uregina.ca). I sincerely hope that La Ronge gets the funding for a search. It is important for our Tri-Community to try to find a sense of closure for the atrocities of the past.
I am personally fortunate that I have never attended residential school. I have many friends and family who have attended, and they told me stories that I found deplorable. Not being able to speak your own language or to practice tradition. It was a clear violation to the psyche of the children. Beating the “Indian” out of the children, literally, or at least trying to.
We are still here. I am fortunate to have gone to band run schools that encouraged, and even taught our beautiful language and culture. I cannot imagine what residential school students had to go through.
Our Tri-Community has made efforts to reconcile with the local band members and cancelled Canada Day and instead scraped the celebrations “in favour of National Indigenous Peoples Day” on June 21, 2021 (newsoptimist.ca). Many people gathered wearing masks and practiced social distancing, to talk about reconciliation and to remember those children that never made it home.
The searches have only just begun.
I would rather not discuss the burning of churches. I sincerely hope it does not happen in our Tri-Communities.