This evening I decided to try out Teachers Pay Teachers. I have used it before when I was a teacher to get unique lessons for my students and it was such a joy (and a relief) to find awesome teaching resources and many for free, in all subjects.
The lesson I developed is based on a phrase I used on a Cree meme, NÊHIYAW NIYA – I AM CREE – https://firstnationstories.com/?p=3900 I opted to use Plains Cree at this time, but I would like to add a mix of Plains and Woodland Cree in the future.
This development took me about three hours, with many breaks in between, so maybe about 2 hours tops. I can imagine it would take much more time to develop more sophisticated lessons, so it will take a while to add useful lessons.
I had fun with it and I plan on making some more lessons for download. With the work that gets put in, I will charge an appropriate price for my lessons and I hope they catch on. There are premium options that cost money and they involve digital lessons which I know I can develop, given time.
If I end up having time to develop more content, I may just do that. I can easily use the contents of my website to make lessons and the graphic work would not be that difficult. This is an exciting time!
When I first started going to school in Hall Lake, Sally Ross School. I was introduced to the song, “Ninestosin.” The teacher played it on his guitar and I loved the song. The whole class would eventually learn and sing along. I was 10 years old at the time and I already used to hear Winston Wuttunee from the radio at home. Some family members had tapes of his performances.
There were some students who sang along perfectly and those who just mumbled the words. Cree was already losing its grip on our fellow Cree people, but songs like this were bringing it back in a way. Students would ask what certain words mean it would increase a bit of interest to learn Cree, at least a few words at a time.
There are many Cree songs available on YouTube today, and even Winston Wuttunee has his own YouTube channel and website (shared at bottom of this page).
I had the opportunity to see Winston Wuttunee when he was an MC for the Fine Arts Festival in the mid-nineties in Prince Albert, SK. I was there to enter a short story and a bow and arrow I made (I won 1st for the short story and came in third for the bow and arrow). Anyway, I was able to get a picture of him backstage with his cowboy hat on. Unfortunately, I lost the picture many years ago, it would have been nice to share it with you.
The announcement was huge, reservations all over the United States and reserves across Canada were shocked and bewildered – NASA will be sending a rez dog to space. The big question was: why?
Chuck, a big shot at NASA, was given the task of researching how a dog can stay in space and survive. The dog would need to eat and use the bathroom in space. Chuck needed to hire a young Indigenous man to take the assignment.
One of three young indigenous astronauts would need to be trained to ride spaceships up to a space station and take care of the dog there.
A search commenced across Canada and the US, to find the perfect dog to train. They had to choose a dog that would be trainable and be very versatile. Strong enough to handle the stress and pressure, to handle the difficulties of being in space. The dog would have to float around and be calm enough to not freak out and to survive. For some odd reason, they would need to get a rez dog.
Chuck interviews three young astronauts. They would need to have patience and have a love for dogs. As it turns out, all the young men are perfect. Reserves and reservations all watched the announcement on social media and news outlets. Every one of them was very happy with the choice.
The astronauts are excited about going to space and riding in their spaceships. One of them would take the dog with them. After several days of training, it was time to travel into space.
The dog floats around the space station. Looking casually at the astronauts and not causing a fuss. He eats balls of Bannock as his source of food, and is fitted with a shining silver pamper whenever he needs to “go.”
Chuck celebrates with the rest of NASA as if they landed a man on Mars.
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.
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
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.
When I was a boy staying at the trapline in Pisew Lake, I rarely ever heard about April Fools Day. It was not something nimosōm would talk about so much but when he did, he called it kithāskīwi kīsikāw, literally “lying day” or “day of lying.” Even then, I do not remember any jokes or pranks being played on anyone.
My memory is very faint on this one, but nimosōm might have asked the family in the cabin if it was April Fool’s Day, “ī- kithāskīwi kīsikāk cī ōma?” I believe one of my uncles answered or it may have been one of my aunties, that it was April Fools Day. I cannot verify if this is how the conversation went, it was so long ago. I wish I could remember who nimosōm was talking about regarding kithāskīwi kīsikāw, it must have been funny because nohkom was laughing at his story. I wish I could go back and hear all the stories again. I missed out on so many stories, at least remembering would be great. I could see nimosōm’s shoulders bounce up and down as he laughed a hardy laugh at his own stories. Great times.
This time of year would be when our family would be waiting for mithoskamin – break-up. I spend many evenings looking out on the lake watching the possible unsafe ice that my parents warned me about. I listened to their warnings for the most part. I could not imagine being able to pull myself out of broken ice and from the freezing cold-water underneath.
Already things were winding down with our stay, my parents were already talking about going back home. My sisters, Susan and Mary, and I would be missing our cousin Flora-Jean and our auntie Elsie. It may have been that previous winter that Elsie took us sliding for new year’s day, down a very steep hill. Our aunt Alice would take us trapping nearby for martin.
In the cool evenings, nimosōm and I would be sitting around in the cabin. He would tell the most interesting stories that kept me intrigued for many hours over the course of the previous winter. After break-up, it would soon be time to go back to the rez and back to school in La Ronge. Nimosōm would be sad to see me go.
kithāskīwi kīsikāw – April Fools Day (literally lying day)
“i- kithāskīwi kīsikāk cī ōma?” – Is it April Fools Day?
Today I went for a walk to one of the places where I would hunt ducks and do a bit of fishing: Sanderson Lake. It was a great experience, great that I actually walked that far from my house and great because the beauty was awesome.
The first thing I saw when I got on the lake was a small island. I looked all around the lake. It was deafeningly quiet. No sound and no other people in sight.
It had been years and years since I saw the place. I was going to walk back from there but I decided to walk to a peninsula to the right.
I remember as a boy, my father would take us through this lake to take us to La Ronge on a snowmobile. We would be bundled up in the back in a sled and covered in one of his huge blankets. The trips would be long and bumpy, but I would feel alone in my thoughts. I am not sure what my sisters were going through, but I doubt they were sleeping with the rough ride. During this time as a small boy, I would never see the trails or portages because we were obviously covered up. Almost each time, we would stop at a cabin to warm up. My late grandfather Moses would have a fire going and a fresh pot of tea. Sometimes there was food to eat. Those were great times.
As we got older, there were fewer trips because my father would hire a taxi to take the family to La Ronge and he would travel by snow machine himself and we would meet him there. We usually went to Bigstone or 101 Reserve.
The few times we travelled together, my father and I would take off before sunset. The one time, it was a warm, breezy day and as we were about to go down a hill, he said, “Look, no hands.” Before he could grab the handlebars, he hit a small spruce tree and dented the bumper bar. He was not going very fast, so it was fine. He straightened it out when we got home.
As a teenager, I used to walk through the portage like I did on this day, January 31, 2021. Of course, it looked exactly as it did because nobody lives there. The beautiful shorelines in all their glory, quiet, undisturbed, and seemingly very welcoming. However, I did not have snowshoes to explore the shore. The weather has not been favourable lately because it has been so cold. My father has snowshoes that I can borrow, so I hope I can go soon.
Another story about Sanderson Lake, a friend of mine and I went for a trip to the next lake to look for ducks or beavers. We scared up a small flock of ducks and we did not get a shot. We did not take the canoe over the portage because it was getting late. On our way back to Hall Lake, we were on the lake during a stunning sunset. As we paddled along, there was a small bat flapping around us. My friend quickly got annoyed and proceeded to blast the air with the shotgun we carried. Suffices to say, the bat went away.
One other time, another friend of mine wanted to check out the lake and do some fishing and to look for beaver. We hoped to see ducks too but were we too noisy to get close enough for a shot. During this trip, we took the canoe over the portage and explored the shores of Sanderson Lake in our borrowed canoe.
It was a beautiful sight in the clear summer day as we paddled around. He knew about the place more than I did and told me about some of the people who had camped there. We stopped at an island and it felt surreal to get on the small piece of earth in the middle of the lake. We talked about how our ancestors might have stopped here during long trips to eat food and drink tea, before moving on to other destinations.
My first trip to Sanderson Lake by myself when I was a teenager, was by mistake. I was across the lake on the shores of Hall Lake when I decided to venture into the woods to look for grouse, I parked my father’s snow machine and off I went. The snow was knee deep but light enough that I could wade through it. I hoped to see a grouse right away because it was snowing.
As I went along for a few minutes longer, I decided to turn back before I lost my trail. I thought I would cut through my winding trail because it looked to go in a curve. About 20 minutes later, I came out of the shore and did not recognize the area I was standing. Thankfully, I figured it out and went back to where I came from and finally arrived on the shores of Hall Lake again. It was about half to one-third of a kilometre away from where I left my father’s snow machine, but I was happy to see it. I remember not being that worried about it because I was too young to realize that it could have ended tragically. I took too many chances as a young man.
On my way back, I noticed some strange tracks and I enhanced the next few images so you can see what I see. Take a close look and I think you may notice that maybe a fox or coyote may have caught fowl of some kind and took it to the bush. I did see some feathers, but they are not clear in the pictures I took. Anyway, something happened and it is too bad I was not there to see it.
The images are not clear, it was getting dark by the time I started walking home.