The spring goose hunt this year was not a very fruitful one. Elders say it’s because of the limited amount of snow, which makes for poor spring hunting – in James Bay, anyway.
Weather has been wonky too. Most of this winter was mild and I don’t recall one snowstorm at all. I guess you can’t always have perfect conditions for the spring hunt, but it certainly makes things better.
Our trip into hunting camp took two days of travelling by snowmobile – three snowmobiles to be exact – along the west coast of James Bay on sea ice. It was a pretty uneventful drive, except for my eldest son who is 12 becoming ill the first day. But we continued on, and finally made it to our destination!
Our camp is the furthest from the village, many miles north on the Opinnigau River – the traditional territory of my family. I’ve been going there since I was a teenager and can’t get enough of it. Knowing you are the furthest camp from home can be a little nerve-wracking at times, but I have faith in the Creator. He is our protector and gives us strength and courage.
The kids had loads of fun. They got to shoot geese, experience world-class trout fishing, snare rabbits, and a whole whack of other things. It made me feel so proud, watching them grow into the little hunters they are becoming today, and knowing that I have been their teacher. When did I become the Elder?? It feels strange to now be the one teaching others. The transition was seamless because I don’t remember how I became a teacher.
I have mixed feelings about this and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because most of my Elders have already passed on. I really do miss them and the stories they shared with us. My hope is that I can live up to their expectations: keep practicing my culture, taking the kids out on the land, using my language, and respecting and acknowledging nature.
I am forever grateful for the little things in life, especially clean drinking water – something most Canadians take for granted.
I’m also grateful for the ability to go hunting every spring and fall. That means the world to me, my family, and community.
In the North, it’s our way.