Personal Stories

Feather Reine: Healing through Dance

Feather Reine shares her experience of growing-up as a troubled teen, disconnected from her family and culture. Through pow wow dancing, she begins healing, reconnecting with herself and her community. She now hopes that her message can be an inspiration for other young Indigenous people going through similar circumstances.

Finding Myself - Walter's Story

My uncle, Johnny Washie, one of our first Tlicho authors! :)

My uncle Johnny is not only an incredible author, he's also one of our very first Tlich authors. Johnny started writing for The Native Press in 1974 and he then started writing for The Press Independent. "I did my share," he told me. "I did my part."

 

Yes, you did, Uncle! :) You broke trail for voices like mine. 

 

:)

 

 

Mahsi cho.

 

Richard

Jim Cunningham: Residential School Survivor

THIS STORY CONTAINS REFERENCES TO SEXUAL AND PHSYICAL ABUSE. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
At 77 years old, Métis senior Jim Cunningham shares his story of attending Sturgeon Lake Indian Residential School. He opens up about his experience, detailing the abuse he suffered at the hands of other students as well as school administrators.

Teaching Kindergarten students about family with Elder Theresa Strawberry

In the spring of 2018, Elder Theresa Strawberry visited teacher Kyla Pronovost and her kindergarten students. She shared teachings about the roles,value and honour of women, children, family and life from her worldview and experiences. The children chose to reflect their understanding and learning through drawings that they created.

Martha Everatt: Life on the Trap Line

Martha Everatt describes memories of growing up Metis on the trapline in Northern Alberta.

Our Buffalo Hunts

A recollection of the Métis buffalo hunts from Victoria Callihoo (1861-1966). The story was originally printed in the Winter 1960 issue of Alberta Historical Review, Volume 8, Number 1. This story is significant because it is a first hand account of one of the last great buffalo hunts in Western Canada. Once the mainstay of the Métis lifestyle and economy, by the late 19th century the prairie herds had all been wiped out, forcing the Métis to adapt an agricultural lifestyle. Victoria Callihoo herself was a noted Métis historian who lived to be 105 years old. Here follows a brief biography from Library and Archives Canada:

Victoria Belcourt Callihoo was born in Lac Ste. Anne, a Métis community northwest of Edmonton. Living in Lac Ste. Anne for all her 104 years, she witnessed the many changes in Canadian life that took place in this time period. Questioning the value of money the first time she saw it, she preferred the "fur" system of barter which did not foster the hoarding of wealth. She was more approving of the telephone, as it permitted Callihoo, a woman related by blood or marriage to the Cree, Iroquois and French, to communicate in the language of her choice.

The daughter of a Cree medicine woman, she went to her first buffalo hunt in a Red River cart at age 13, when the great western bison herds could still be described as "a dark solid moving mass." She later farmed with her husband, Louis Callihoo, and raised 12 children. An expert teamster, she also freighted for the Hudson's Bay Company between Edmonton and Athabasca Landing.

Callihoo's vivid recollections, outlined in the Alberta Historical Review, are a remarkable window into 19th-century Métis daily life and customs. Indeed, she was still dancing the laborious Red River jig "the way it should be done" well past the age of 100.

Joanne Arnott, Author, Advocate

One of my literary heroes. A master performer and advocate for all the right things.

 

Mahsi cho, Joanne, for all that you do.

 

:)

 

Richard

 

A portrait of my aunty Rosa Washie: champion moccasin maker and champion everything maker. :)

Rosa can make anything: moccasins, jackets, vests--you name it.

My cousins say it's hard to get a photo of her smiling, but I find that I can get her to smile when I show up and start sharing stories and try my Tlicho Yatii!

 

:)
 

Here's to making our aunties smile.

 

I'm sure she shakes her head after I leave.

 

:)
 

All the best, everyone.

 

:)

 

Richard Van Camp

 

"The Moon is Our Night Clock." Traditional Knowledge about the moon, stars, northern lights from our Fort Smith Elders: with Archie Smith (Chipewyan), Rosalie Bourke, Dorothy "Dot" Desjarlais...

A collection of traditional knowledge about watching the sky with Archie Smith (Chipewyan), Fred Bealieu, Rosalie Bourke, Dorothy "Dot" Desjarlais and Mary Cardinal (Cree):

The Moon is Our Night Clock by Archie Smith

Ring around the moon means a storm is coming--usually a snow storm.

If the moon is standing up and down, it’s going to be warm. Little bit of snow.

If the moon is lying down in the first quarter, that means cold weather and no snow until the full moon.

If the moon is upside down in the first quarter, cold weather is coming. There will be no snow until the full moon.

Moon in Chipewyan is “Kalaza. Night Clock.” Or you can say, “Saw.”

“Tun” is ‘stars’ in Chip.

“Atun” means ‘caribou.’

 

Fred Beaulieu on watching the sky:

“Long time ago, they don’t care about the stars. They watched the moon.”  -- Fred Beaulieu

Clouds create the winds.

A little bit of clouds and sundogs it’s going to be windy:

Sundogs without clouds, it will be cold.

Clouds on both side of the sun, it’s going to be windy.

Cold on the full moon? It will be cold until the last quarter.

Sunset. Pink clouds at sunset and sunrise? It’s going to be warm.

This is the traditional way of telling the weather.

 

Rosalie Bourke shared this with us:

Stars are “Ah-cha-ku-sak” in Bush Cree.

Or you can say, “Ah-cha-kos.”

 

Dot Desjarlais:

For Orion and Polaris, Big Dipper, we say it like how it’s said in English: “Big Dipper”, but we say, “Dipper Star.

And Orion: “Three Kings.”

“The Milky Way” is “The Good Path” or “miyo-meskanaw”, or “mahihkan-meskanaw” for “Wolf-Path.”

And the west, I got another one for the setting sun, for the west. When the sun’s setting and there’s a pink and a purplish—all that comes together—it’s such a beautiful colour when it’s all mixed. In Cree, my mom used to tell us stories about a lady who was so beautiful she can get anyone she wants.

And when she liked a man and didn’t want him to leave or anything, she’d put on a beautiful dress and she combed her hair and the wind would come up, and the lake would be just full of waves. Nobody could travel on the lake and nobody could travel anywhere and she’d have her man. And that’s the west. It’s called, “[Dot speaks Cree.] A Jezebel’s Dress.”  The sunset.  --Jan 27. 2015

 

Mary Cardinal on Jan. 27, 2015 on the stars:

“The stars, bright stars, if you see a real shining bright star, that means those are the people who have left this world recently; the stars that are faded, those are the ancestors or the people that passed on a long time ago.

“Northern Lights are really spirits dancing.  That’s why they call them, “Cipiyak nimehitowak,” or, “the spirits are dancing.”  Dancing ghosts.

“You have to respect all things like that, you know. I was taught that way.

“When Northern Lights come down real real low, right above your head, that means you’re not going to live long, too. If you light a match, the northern lights are coming down—you throw it up--they will go higher. I know that because that’s what we used to do when we played outside when we were kids. Northern Lights used to come down and we just threw a match and they’d go up. “